Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Windfall Tax Revenues From Wind Power

From Abilene to Midland Texas there is a wind power boom of sorts going on. The economy in west Texas has benefited from these projects by way of tax revenues growing in leaps and bounds. The city of Blackwell Texas is an example. In a two year period the property tax roll climbed from 325 million dollars to 1.2 billion dollars because of the revenues from four wind farms in that area. Blackwell is building a new school that would not have been possible were it not for the wind farms. New computers and improved curriculum are benefits of the wind farm projects in the area as well.
When most people think of Texas, they think oil and gas. Ironically Texas leads the nation in wind power capacity. They currently boast 5,800 megawatts which in itself is a substantial amount of power. However if predictions for new transmission lines are met, then the number will increase to 18,000 megawatts.
There are no shortage of investors lining up to finance new wind farms in the wide open spaces of west Texas. They include Florida based FPL Group, and many others. The wind farms are being promoted by many prominent Texans including T. Boone Pickens a Texas billionaire. There are very few detractors of the wind farms with the exception of Gillespie County. The county is a tourist attraction due to scenic views and a popular hiking destination. They opposed the wind turbines, stating that they would interfere with the scenic views.
Wind investment has made it possible for school districts in the area to sell bonds to raise funds for education. There is an eight million dollar bond issue to build new facilities for the Highland Independent School district in Roscoe Texas for the district's 220 students. According to the superintendent of the school district they would not have considered this measure were it not for the revenue the wind farms bring to the economy.
Sweetwater Texas is the center of the wind farm expansion and officials there say there are no empty hotels, restaurants are full and there are no empty houses. People who had plans to leave the area are now staying. Sweetwater is the home of Texas's famous rattlesnake roundup and the attraction of the wind farms rival this event.
A wind farm scheduled to be completed next year in Roscoe Texas will become the world's largest. Former residents who had since moved away are considering returning to the area as it is now an attractive option for retirement. The tourist trade will provide plenty of activity as people come into the area to witness these wind farms.
This is another example of the opportunity for growth that converting to renewable energy will provide. This rural area of Texas will now provide power for larger cities like Dallas and Fort Worth which are in dire need of new power sources. This in turn will not only create revenue, it will provide jobs for thousands of people. These 'green collar' jobs will give way to 'green collar' careers as time passes.
The power generated by the wind turbines will be emission free. There is no equal in the world of fossil fuels. This is a win-win scenario, there is no downside. The citizens benefit from an improved standard of living and their power needs are met painlessly. Our lawmakers in Washington are currently debating this option along with others. It would seem that all one need do would be to look at projects like these wind farms or the solar installations successfully providing power in various places around the world. This is change whose time has come.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

National Day of Action/Green Jobs Now

Today (09-27-2008) is The Green Jobs Now National Day of Action, and many events have been planned to bring about awareness of this work. Several environmental and activist groups are trying to convince our elected officials to invest in creating 'green collar' jobs, millions of jobs. This seems to be a daunting task, however I agree with their ideas. If we commit to using clean renewable energy we can do this.
The largest gains in employment when we convert would be in retooling manufacturing facilities, building solar power facilities, solar panel fabrication and installation, weatherization of existing buildings, wind farms, manufacturing wind turbines, water conservation, organic product marketing, repairing the infrastructure and training our citizens in the new technology. Most of the training would be simple as there aren't any complicated issues where renewable energy is concerned.
This is a way to become involved in the actual creation of these jobs. You have to convince your power company that you don't want your power to come from coal, nuclear, gas or any of the other fossil fuels that are producing greenhouse gas and literally killing us! You are a customer of the power company in your area, your opinion is important. The power companies don't have to buy fossil fuels, they may buy solar, wind, geothermal and any combination of renewable energy sources. The problem is they don't buy renewable energy sources, and they have no incentive to do so. That is why we have to force this issue. In this country coal fired power plants are responsible for 80 percent of electricity's global warming pollution. Less than five percent of the energy we use in the U.S. is from renewable energy sources. We have very little choice, we have to try and convince the power companies that control our futures in more ways than one.
We can make everyone listen including the policy makers. The policy makers will listen because we control their fates and once again the power companies must listen to their customers.
America does not have any products that we make in our own country anymore. We don't have oil to speak of, we don't manufacture anything. What we have are people. That is what we have to start to exploit. Our people are strong and imaginative, together we can achieve our goals of clean energy and a new economy based on the creation of 'green collar' jobs.
The government should get behind the industries that will serve to clean up our environment. They will create 'green collar' jobs. A green collar job is a blue collar job that's been upgraded to respect the environment. There should be good benefits and wages that will support families tied to these 'green collar' jobs. We would solve several of mankind's problems with this solution. We will start to repair our environment and we will put millions of people back to work. I hope the events planned for 9/27/2008 go well we need to bring attention to a situation that has it's own problems and now there are answers. The organization Green Jobs Now would have it that we can invent and invest our way out of our current problems. They have been proven right by countries all over Europe. America has to catch up.
We will create jobs and lasting new businesses, small and large, that will provide an economic future for us all. The green revolution is re-powering America. We will create 'green collar' jobs and 'green collar' careers will be born, lasting careers with futures as long lasting as renewable energy. That is to say they (green collar careers) probably will last forever.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wind Power: Alternative Energy Whose Time Has Come

In August of 2008 the town of Rock Port Missouri announced that they had the first completely wind powered community in United States history. There are only four wind turbines supplying all of the power that Rock Port needs. Rock Port is a small city with only a little over 1300 residents. Rock Port's wind power is supplied by four wind turbines on agricultural lands inside the city limits of Rock Port which is in Atchison County. They use 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The four turbines will probably produce around 16 million kilowatt hours per year.
The excess power generated but not used will be purchased by the Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities for use elsewhere. At the University of Missouri, Extension specialists say that there are opportunities for wind power to be used in northwest Missouri.
Currently 24 wind turbines operate in Atchison County, 24 operate in Nodaway County, and 27 operate in Gentry County. University of Missouri Extension specialist say that wind farms will produce 1.1 million dollars a year in county real estate taxes. The taxes will be paid by wind energy developer Wind Capitol Group from St. Louis Missouri. This is a situation heretofore unheard of (the increase in tax dollars) in rural areas like these. Using wind power will help landowners in these areas, as they will lease part of their property for wind turbines at rates of 3,000 to 5,000 dollars.
The success of this venture is bringing other wind energy companies out to look at possibly acquiring sites in northwest Missouri. According to a U.S. Department of Energy map northwest Missouri has the state's highest level of wind resources. It also shows that a number of locations in this area would be suitable for wind development on a utility scale.
There is a 20 year life span for the turbines being used in Missouri, therefore they will provide electricity for that period before they would need to be replaced. The community will benefit greatly from this as they save money as well as the electric power companies in the area. An unexpected benefit is curiosity brings visitors from other areas which adds money received from tourism.
This is another example of the practicality of using renewable energy and thereby reducing CO2 emissions as well as eliminating greenhouse gas. We must lobby our elected officials to see that this is going to be one of the ways we save our environment and our planet.
Click on the title of this article to go to another site to learn more about renewable energy sources.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pink Floyd and Other Tastes

I would like to say that I learned of Richard Wright's death yesterday (September 15, 2008) with great sorrow. Mr. Wright was a founding member of Pink Floyd a rock group that influenced my musical taste in the '70's, I was a young man then. This brings to mind a subject not often discussed (too sad) but important at any rate. Mortality, we have lost a great many musical and show business icons this year: Issac Hayes; Bo Diddly; Bernie Mac, just to name a few. I'm getting to the point, I tend to ramble these days.

It has been noted that money cannot buy health, love or happiness, or can it? There is a study that suggests otherwise. (check MSN.com today) Nancy E Adler PhD (University of California San Francisco) has looked into this problem and her conclusions are shocking to say the least. It seems that people in the lower income groups have health problems far more than their higher paid counter parts. They also tend to die prematurely, more so than the affluent! This is not because they have more money, it is usually because the poor tend to have bad diets, poor exercise habits, smoke more, abuse alcohol and drugs and they live in areas decidedly bad for their health. Take for instance the urban working mother with 2 jobs, she may outlive her husband but she won't outlive her suburban counterpart. She doesn't have time to exercise, is more likely to feed her kids from the local fast food establishment due to lack of meal prep time, and is more likely to suffer from bad health in general. There is a connection between status and health that scientists don't completely understand. Dr. Adler changed her focus to socio-economic status after seeing a British study with the shorthand title Whitehall I. She is now the chairwoman of MacArthur Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health.

It seems that Whitehall is a street in London where many government agencies have offices. In 1967 the study began by surveying 18,000 male workers, civil servants. They were divided into 4 groups with Administrators (policy setters) at the top, executives next, clerical workers followed, and at the bottom were office messengers. These men all had the same access to benefit packages provided by the British government, as well as the same amount of job security. However 25 years later, in the early 1990's, they found that the men at the top were far more healthy than the men at the bottom. Not only were they healthier, they tended to live longer as the men at the bottom were 3 times more likely to have died or would die an early death. They could not explain this even when they took bad habits into consideration. (The upper level had just as many bad habits as the lower)

It is not known for sure if you can free yourself from this grim fact of life, but you may surely try to do so. The studies indicate that beyond 125k per year there is little health advantage to be gained by increasing wealth beyond this point. What can you do about it if you don't make the grade by your income level. Live as though you do have an income equal to 125k. They listed seven ways to improve your health prospects and I'll repeat them here. Before I do, the one theme that seemed to be in the background was make your world green. Protect your environment and the environment that we all share. Air and water pollution due to our dependence on fossil fuels are killing us, along with our diets and bad habits. That is the full truth, however the following are seven ways to add 15 years to your life.

Number 1
Become famous, or at least recognized in your field. According to Dr Adler your social status is as important as economic status. Those who were successful in their endeavours and who also had adequate incomes tended to live longer. Her advice was to find your niche and if you are successful, stay with it, you'll be healthier.

Number 2
Hang out with thin people or at least people who are not over weight. Obesity levels are not equal with regard to social status. The highest rates of obesity are found among people of lower economic and educational status. This is not hard to understand among the poor, they have notoriously bad diets. However there is one surprising factor, if your friends are obese chances are you will be as well. This statistic goes up if you are a man almost double. If you have a very close friend that is obese, then the chances of you becoming obese climbs to 171 percent.

Number 3
Live in peaceful surroundings, this should not matter but according to researchers it does. Living in the city increases the chance of premature death by over 60 percent. This is where environmental conditions are the culprit more than any place else. Respiratory disease is higher because the water and air are polluted. Higher incidences of lead paint in homes. Dr Adler found that low income families had 6 times as much lead in their blood as did their higher income counterparts. The fear of crime increased depression and anxiety disorders. Cities tend to be noisy, and this leads to stress, social isolation, depression and heart disease. How do we counter this? Should we all move to the suburbs? No, we should lobby our elected officials to get moving on repairing our environment and our planet. Cease the use of fossil fuels, build homes without lead paint, legislate the use of electric vehicles and all of the benefits of using alternative energy will pay off. It will even create jobs to build a new future, we must do this!

Number 4
Quit smoking and this is a no brainer. Over 400,000 people die each year from smoking, and they are from the lower income groups. This is probably because more under educated people smoke because they are surrounded by smokers. Only 10-15 percent of male college graduates smoke today.

Number 5
Find a job that you are satisfied with and you don't feel angry and frustrated over. We no longer work on jobs where you would get coal miner's lung or have a large piece of steel drop on our heads. We still think that these are the only kinds of jobs that are hazardous to our health. Nowadays we have to think in terms of how much stress and frustration our jobs cause us to have. Dr Adler has found that jobs in which people have little control, feel they are being treated badly, are threatened by pay cuts or job loss are likely to develop stress that in turn causes many diseases. If you feel that you don't fit wherever you work, quit or lose your life in the process.

Number 6
Call the people you really like and for whom you have a high regard. They can be relatives, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, you get the picture. Isolation can be a stress inducer and those of us who don't have a lot of income tend to become isolated. That is not something that has to be true. Remember, you are pretending that you have an adequate income (125k/year) in order to get the same benefit. Reach out and become a social person, it won't hurt and you'll increase your chances of enjoying good health.

Number 7
Last, but certainly not least is to get more education. This is the most important aspect of a healthy life, your level of education. A study done in Sweden suggests that every step up the educational ladder increases your life span. The most amazing thing about this study was when they compared PhD holders to professionals only one step down the ladder. (i.e. engineers, attorneys) The PhD's did not make any more money, yet their mortality rate was 33 percent lower. Well, that does it for me, go back to school, you'll live longer.

Once again it is not certain as to whether these suggestions are valid, however studies seem to indicate that they are. Eight years ago studies indicated that if your income is 36,000 dollars/year or less you had a 64 percent larger chance of premature death. There you have it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11 2001, So We Remember

The following is a reprint from my blog posted on Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden's site

By Gypsyman27 - Sep 11th, 2008 at 11:00 am EDT
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On September 11, 2001, I was at my son's elementary school in the office, (I taught math and reading as a volunteer) the TV set was on and we watched in horror as the second plane hit the World Trade Center Tower. I had a dim thought that it was only by the grace of God that I was not in that tower, I used to work there on the 86th floor. In the hours and days that followed we all watched as brave police and firefighters tried to locate and rescue any survivors. Some of the rescuers have since passed on themselves from maladies contracted while attempting to help. I'm sure everyone can remember where they were when this terrible tragedy took place. We will not soon forget
The perpertrators of this crime are still free. No one has brought them to justice. Our sitting president was chasing his own political agenda by sending troops to Iraq to die in a (I feel) pointless conflict. We should have been using our resources to capture and punish those responsible for this misdeed. This was a dark moment in our history.
Today let us join Senators Obama and Biden as we remember and honor our dead. Let us remember that they all left families and friends behind. We should, as we go about our business today, take time to say a prayer for our fallen friends. Let us remember in the hope that this must not be allowed to happen again. Thankyou, Senator Obama and Senator Biden for remembering.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Nanotechnology is a simple short term solution for implementing alternative, renewable energy systems. It is a cost effective way to implement solar and wind power systems, which generally depend on the weather for energy output. By using chemical techniques inexpensive solutions of nanoparticles can be prepared and applied to materials for use in ultra capacitors. These units will be cost effective and will conduct electricity at a higher rate than is currently possible. Nanotechnology can be used in battery technology. Nanocomposite materials greatly increase the surface area at which chemical reactions occur in batteries. It enables increases in the battery's output while reducing it's size. In the long term nanotechnology could enable power to be harnessed from renewable sources and stored until we use the power at a later time. This is a technology whose time has come as we don't have a system in place that effectively stores power in this fashion. However there are researchers who are working in this direction and new discoveries are coming almost daily. It is almost the way every major innovation in our country has occurred. When the internal combustion engine was developed, there were several inventors working toward the same end without any of them having any knowledge of what the other was doing! The same could be said of the steam engine. Credit for a great deal of this information comes from material written by David Walker and Dr. Mark Daugherty of IPC Corporation. This technology is another advent in getting to a place where we free ourselves from costly fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy. Click on the title of this blog for more information.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

M's Palin Has Astonished Even Me!

The speech M's Palin gave last night was indeed astonishing. From an enviromental point of view she made it clear that it was business as usual in Alaska. Should we expect anything more of this candidate for the country? I don't think so. There was not much in the way of substance, however she made it clear that she was blundering ahead with the drill and pollute mentality that has been the signature of the fossil fuel industry. This, once again is not a political blog, but I must speak about the obvious. She trotted her family out all evening, although everyone is supposed to lay off these people. Don't use them as props 'hon'. If you do so, then they become fair game. I could be in Alaska helping the oil companies make more of the 'over the top' profits to which they have become accustomed. I chose not to go that route. I have said it before, I could use the money. My seventeen year old son needs college money. ("Baby needs a new pair of shoes") I simply cannot, in good conscience get it in this fashion. I know it's a cliche', but money isn't everything. I'm going to bring up the sheer number of children that she has. I can't believe that anyone with her genes would reproduce so wantonly. I know this is America, but come on! But I digress, there are going to be problems if this ticket goes any further than watching 1600 Pennslyvania ave. from the sidewalk. No plan to substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels. No plans to help the middle class with health care, jobs, or tax breaks. I would love to see them address the enviroment, although she did mention this vaguely. We need someone with a plan! The city of San Francisco has cleared the way for it's residents to get permits for, and build wind turbines. Let's face it, we are going toward renewable energy whether M's Palin and Senator McCain like it or not.