NewEnergyNews-Butterfield Archive

WALL STREET JOURNAL'S Environmental Capital quotes NewEnergyNews:

  • 06/05/2007
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    WALL STREET JOURNAL selects NewEnergyNews as one of the "Blogs We Are Reading" --

  • 05/14/2007
  • 04/16/2007
  • 03/28/2007
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      Anne B. Butterfield of DAILY CAMERA, a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews


    • My Novels: OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades & OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction
    • Review of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades by Mark S. Friedman
    • OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades, the second volume of Herman K. Trabish’s retelling of oil’s history in fiction, picks up where the first book in the series, OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction, left off. The new book is an engrossing, informative and entertaining tale of the Roaring 20s, World War II and the Cold War. You don’t have to know anything about the first historical fiction’s adventures set between the Civil War, when oil became a major commodity, and World War I, when it became a vital commodity, to enjoy this new chronicle of the U.S. emergence as a world superpower and a world oil power.
    • As the new book opens, Lefash, a minor character in the first book, witnesses the role Big Oil played in designing the post-Great War world at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Unjustly implicated in a murder perpetrated by Big Oil agents, LeFash takes the name Livingstone and flees to the U.S. to clear himself. Livingstone’s quest leads him through Babe Ruth’s New York City and Al Capone’s Chicago into oil boom Oklahoma. Stymied by oil and circumstance, Livingstone marries, has a son and eventually, surprisingly, resolves his grievances with the murderer and with oil.
    • In the new novel’s second episode the oil-and-auto-industry dynasty from the first book re-emerges in the charismatic person of Victoria Wade Bridger, “the woman everybody loved.” Victoria meets Saudi dynasty founder Ibn Saud, spies for the State Department in the Vichy embassy in Washington, D.C., and – for profound and moving personal reasons – accepts a mission into the heart of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Underlying all Victoria’s travels is the struggle between the allies and axis for control of the crucial oil resources that drove World War II.
    • As the Cold War begins, the novel’s third episode recounts the historic 1951 moment when Britain’s MI-6 handed off its operations in Iran to the CIA, marking the end to Britain’s dark manipulations and the beginning of the same work by the CIA. But in Trabish’s telling, the covert overthrow of Mossadeq in favor of the ill-fated Shah becomes a compelling romance and a melodramatic homage to the iconic “Casablanca” of Bogart and Bergman.
    • Monty Livingstone, veteran of an oil field youth, European WWII combat and a star-crossed post-war Berlin affair with a Russian female soldier, comes to 1951 Iran working for a U.S. oil company. He re-encounters his lost Russian love, now a Soviet agent helping prop up Mossadeq and extend Mother Russia’s Iranian oil ambitions. The reunited lovers are caught in a web of political, religious and Cold War forces until oil and power merge to restore the Shah to his future fate. The romance ends satisfyingly, America and the Soviet Union are the only forces left on the world stage and ambiguity is resolved with the answer so many of Trabish’s characters ultimately turn to: Oil.
    • Commenting on a recent National Petroleum Council report calling for government subsidies of the fossil fuels industries, a distinguished scholar said, “It appears that the whole report buys these dubious arguments that the consumer of energy is somehow stupid about energy…” Trabish’s great and important accomplishment is that you cannot read his emotionally engaging and informative tall tales and remain that stupid energy consumer. With our world rushing headlong toward Peak Oil and epic climate change, the OIL IN THEIR BLOOD series is a timely service as well as a consummate literary performance.
    • Oil history journal articles by Dr. Trabish: Oil Stories and Histories
    • Review of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction by Mark S. Friedman
    • "...ours is a culture of energy illiterates." (Paul Roberts, THE END OF OIL)
    • OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, a superb new historical fiction by Herman K. Trabish, addresses our energy illiteracy by putting the development of our addiction into a story about real people, giving readers a chance to think about how our addiction happened. Trabish's style is fine, straightforward storytelling and he tells his stories through his characters.
    • The book is the answer an oil family's matriarch gives to an interviewer who asks her to pass judgment on the industry. Like history itself, it is easier to tell stories about the oil industry than to judge it. She and Trabish let readers come to their own conclusions.
    • She begins by telling the story of her parents in post-Civil War western Pennsylvania, when oil became big business. This part of the story is like a John Ford western and its characters are classic American melodramatic heroes, heroines and villains.
    • In Part II, the matriarch tells the tragic story of the second generation and reveals how she came to be part of the tales. We see oil become an international commodity, traded on Wall Street and sought from London to Baku to Mesopotamia to Borneo. A baseball subplot compares the growth of the oil business to the growth of baseball, a fascinating reflection of our current president's personal career.
    • There is an unforgettable image near the center of the story: International oil entrepreneurs talk on a Baku street. This is Trabish at his best, portraying good men doing bad and bad men doing good, all laying plans for wealth and power in the muddy, oily alley of a tiny ancient town in the middle of everywhere. Because Part I was about triumphant American heroes, the tragedy here is entirely unexpected, despite Trabish's repeated allusions to other stories (Casey At The Bat, Hamlet) that do not end well.
    • In the final section, World War I looms. Baseball takes a back seat to early auto racing and oil-fueled modernity explodes. Love struggles with lust. A cavalry troop collides with an army truck. Here, Trabish has more than tragedy in mind. His lonely, confused young protagonist moves through the horrible destruction of the Romanian oilfields only to suffer worse and worse horrors, until--unexpectedly--he finds something, something a reviewer cannot reveal. Finally, the question of oil must be settled, so the oil industry comes back into the story in a way that is beyond good and bad, beyond melodrama and tragedy.
    • Along the way, Trabish gives readers a greater awareness of oil and how we became addicted to it. Awareness, Paul Roberts said in THE END OF OIL, "...may be the first tentative step toward building a more sustainable energy economy. Or it may simply mean that when our energy system does begin to fail, and we begin to lose everything that energy once supplied, we won't be so surprised."
    • Oil history journal articles by Dr. Trabish: Oil Stories and Histories
    • My Photo
      Location: Agua Dulce, CA

      *Doctor with my hands *Author of the "OIL IN THEIR BLOOD" series with my head *Student of New Energy with my heart






      Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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    • NewEnergyNews


      Xcel takes aim at Boulder’s solar

      Anne B. Butterfield, July 27, 2009 (NewEnergyNews)

      Xcel Energy is presenting Colorado with the second of two rate increases, in an unprecedented back-to-back timing, which may land us with up to 13 percent more in fixed, base-rate costs. This is to pay off Xcel’s new coal plant in Pueblo called Comanche 3, plus its gas fired turbines at Fort St. Vrain. So says Xcel’s Vice President Karen Hyde.

      The rate case also presents a hit against net metering by imposing a charge of about 2 cents per kilowatt hour produced, or $22 per year for the average rooftop solar installation. Net metering was passed into law by our state legislature to direct electric utilities to pay distributed energy producers for their net energy given back to the grid. By far and away this charge will impact Boulder most of all counties of Colorado.

      When observing utilities or reading the language of their rate cases, it is useful to keep in mind that the arguments you hear might be precisely backward, as if seen through the wrong end of a looking-glass.

      One such backwardism is found in Scott Brockett’s testimony in which Xcel’s stockholders are absorbing a 5 cent per kilowatt-hour revenue loss from Colorado’s net metering. But his real concern is the future customers who will pay off those losses “for fixed costs over fewer sales” implying that Comanche 3 will fall to those who don’t invest in solar -- and that there is no daylight between Xcel’s ask and our PUC’s grant. That’s funny; between 2006 and 2008 Colorado ‘s contribution to Xcel’s earnings increased from 41 percent to 52 percent, in spite of the fact Colorado has 18 percent fewer rate payers than Xcel’s next largest contributor, Minnesota.

      But what really grabs your eyeballs is Brockett’s assertion that net metering under current rates is “particularly unfair because customers have subsidized the installation of renewable generation through the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment.”

      Oh, my. Exhibit A in looking-glass logic. Let’s see if we can relish all of its irony. The Xcel energy planner sees it as unfair for ratepayers to subsidize renewable energy at 2 percent of their bills while it’s wonderful to subsidize the excess coal capacity of Comanche 3 at 13 percent! Never mind that we the people actually voted in the renewable energy standard, or that for each of those rooftop installations we actually put in thousands of our own dollars, or that through our rooftop solar we produce some of the utility’s most valuable peak-use energy of the year, or that it pushes back some of our local coal plant’s dirty emissions which have graced our town with a failing grade for ozone in the view of the American Lung Association.

      Cough, cough.

      This “minimum bill” for net metered customers is touted as being for transmission and distribution costs. Never mind that distributed resources such as solar defer costs of operation, maintenance, and capital improvements by reducing load growth, according to almost a dozen studies, especially two by National Renewable Energy Laboratories and Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

      On PV’s benefits, Boulder’s County Commissioner Will Toor adds, “At the very least, these benefits should be quantified and included before any net metering rate adjustments are considered. A net metering penalty would be a big step in the wrong direction. I hope that Xcel chooses to withdraw this proposal.”

      As one might expect in Alice’s Wonderland, there are moments of beauty and hope in Xcel’s new rate case, which can be found in its new rate structure called inverted block rates. This can be powerful at sending customers price signals that meaningfully enhance conservation. Bravo!

      Also on the upside is one purpose for this case: offering changes in bill format. And lookie here, there’s information that we rate payers need: fuel mix ratios and public health impacts of fossil fuel based power. Food products tell us their ingredients, cigarette packages state their hazards, and coal based power can harm the way we breathe. Labeling is normal, and providers of electricity can step up with this accountability to public health.

      I can be reached at “PSCo Electric Rate Case Proposed May 1” can be read at Xcel’s website. There is a public hearing for this case at the PUC on August 5 from 4-6 pm. Comments can be emailed to