Baltimore utility rolling out smart meters: savings 3:1 costs

Like early adopter utilities in California, Texas and Florida, Maryland’s largest utility will soon be rolling out smart grid technology, right in Charm City. Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, announced Monday that it plans to deploy 2 million smart meters for all of its customers. The rollout will cost an estimated $500 million over five years, but could save BGE’s customers $2.6 billion.

BGE has only filed its smart meter plan with the state regulator — the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) — but the utility asked the commission to move quickly on its proposal so that it can also apply for federal smart grid stimulus funds for the project. BGE hopes to get a $200 million grant from DOE stimulus funds, and will file for the funds by August (the deadline for proposals), hoping to receive them by October.

While the program will cost $500 million to deploy and will partly be paid for with rate hikes of up to $1.24 per month for electric customers and $1.52 for gas customers, BGE says savings will be higher than costs by a ratio of 3 to 1. That data comes from BGE’s pilot smart meter trials, which involved 3,000 homes between July and November of 2008. In those trials, BGE found that customers reduced their energy consumption by up to 37 percent during peak electricity periods, and saved $100 on their energy bills.

I imagine replacing your existing electric meter with the new variety shouldn’t be more difficult for your meter reader than it was to replace our old original with a wifi-equipped version a couple years back. The critters only plug-in like a giant glass toadstool fuse – yank out the old and shove the new one into place.

Took longer for the meter dude to walk from his truck around to the back of the house and back – than it took to actually change out the meter. Of course, I don’t now what’s required after that; but, I’d hope it can be accomplished from electricity central station.

Conservative Lobbyists would back FedEx over UPS – for $3.4 million


Good ol’ George W knew who to pay off

The American Conservative Union, which bills itself as the nation’s oldest conservative grass-roots lobbying organization, has found itself fending off charges that it put its principles up for sale.

In a letter sent last month to FedEx, the group offered its support in a bitter legislative dispute with United Parcel Service, but said it wanted a contract of up to $3.4 million to wage a campaign to win support for FedEx’s position. When FedEx did not agree, executives at the company said, the conservative group’s chairman, David A. Keene, turned around and signed a letter using the group’s logo endorsing the UPS view and blasting FedEx.

The group’s letter to FedEx, dated June 30, and the subsequent Keene letter were first reported by Politico on its Web site…

The initial letter from the ACU was written by Dennis Whitfield, and it proposed to a FedEx vice president in the Washington office, Rick Rodgers, an elaborate campaign of building support.

“We stand with FedEx in opposition to this legislation,” Mr. Whitfield wrote in a reference to a bill that would change labor law and expand organized union influence across the FedEx empire…

Mr. Whitfield proposed contacting 150,000 people at least seven times about the supposed dangers of the legislation, at a cost of $2.15 million. The other costs would be for a radio campaign.

FedEx declined, Mr. Lane said. Then, on July 15, the letter from a coalition of groups supporting UPS in the dispute was sent to Frederick W. Smith, the FexEx chairman, with the ACU logo and Mr. Keene’s signature.

The corruption and cronyism that got its biggest boost with the Contract On America and culminated in the Bush-Cheney Reich continues unabated in Republican circles. They do not recognize crime, bigotry or deceit as the guiding lights of their popular defeat in the last election.

The premise of what passes for American conservatism nowadays is that the American people have to understand that they are required to obey – and nothing else.

I wonder how much UPS handed over?

Goldman Sachs and blogger quietly end trademark question


TARP repaid with interest – $20 billion spare for bonuses
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Goldman Sachs Group Inc has quietly reached an agreement to end a legal dispute with a blogger who will be allowed to keep running a website critical of the investment bank.

The agreement required blogger Michael Morgan to post a disclaimer on his goldmansachs666.com website, saying it has no affiliation with the financial firm.

Morgan, a Florida investment adviser, uses his blog — whose name combines Goldman’s name with numbers used to evoke connotations with the devil — to criticize the bank and its large profits.

The bank this week posted a 33 percent increase in quarterly earnings on blowout trading results, putting its employees on pace for big bonuses at a time when many Americans are struggling…

Goldman spokeswoman Gia Moron said on Friday that “our concern about this site ceased when Mr. Morgan posted a prominent disclaimer making it clear that his site was not associated with Goldman Sachs.”

If the little financial smurf had posted a disclaimer from the beginning, he never would have been bothered by Goldman-Sachs’ legal beagles.

All the decades I spent in the commercial world, anyone who took the time to look around at the network of legal crap overlaying business in the United States learned about trademark and naming requirements.

Yes, all the lawsuits sound silly and petty. What you don’t realize is that they are required to protect rights to a brand name. The classic defense goes back around a century with Bayer filing to defend its rights to a product they called “aspirin”. They were too late and the word went into the public domain.

Classified Arctic ice images should be (are) made public

Hundreds of images derived from classified data that could be used to better understand rapid loss and transformation of Arctic sea ice should be immediately released and disseminated to the scientific research community, says a new report from the National Research Council.

That was the opening paragraph when I set this news article aside for possible posting. The Feds actually responded that afternoon:


Ice on the East Siberian Sea in 2008

The United States released more than a thousand intelligence images of Arctic ice to help scientists study the impact of climate change, within hours of a recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences.

In an unusually fast move by a U.S. government agency, the Interior Department made the images public on Wednesday. The academy’s report urging this action was released at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Some 700 images show swatches of sea ice from six sites around the Arctic Ocean, with an additional 500 images of 22 sites in the United States…

The Arctic images have a resolution of about 1 yard (1 meter), a vast improvement on previously available pictures of sea ice, said Thorsten Markus of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“That doesn’t happen every day,” said a person familiar with the government’s decision. “This is a great example of good government cooperation between the intelligence community and academia. In the science community, we call it a no-brainer.”

Until this administration, questions of science and politics were decided by hacks with No Brains.

House Democrats pass along funding for needle exchanges


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The longstanding ban on use of federal AIDS grant funds to support needle exchange programs will soon be history, if the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services of the House Committee on Appropriations has its way. Led by Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the subcommittee left the language which has imposed the ban these many years out of the new bill. According to Obey’s office:

This bill deletes the prohibition on the use of funds for needle exchange programs. Scientific studies have documented that needle exchange programs, when implemented as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention for reducing AIDS/AIV infections and do not promote drug use. The judgment we make is that it is time to lift this ban and let State and local jurisdictions determine if they want to pursue this approach…

President Obama pledged during his primary campaign to eliminate the ban. Legislation allows the president to do so if certain scientific findings are made, specifically that needle exchange programs do not increase community drug use levels, and do reduce the spread of HIV. These findings were made long ago, and the Clinton administration acknowledged them, but declined to eliminate the ban…

Elimination of the ban will neither increase nor decrease the amount of money the federal government spends on AIDS prevention, at least not directly. What it will do is allow state governments who receive federal AIDS grants to choose whether or not to spend some of that money on needle exchange. Those states which are in the habit of using scientific evidence to guide their policies will undoubtedly support needle exchange.

We have states using scientific evidence? Where? Wha? Who?