Frank Heller's Comments

March 07, 2014

Survey: Distributed Generation an Opportunity, Not a Threat to Utilities

Natural gas is being generated from organic human and other waste. It is then 'scrubbed' to pipeline quality to add to the existing stream of natural gas.

Having converted to natural gas, I and a charter school are experimenting this spring with home digesters for use by natural gas using residences.

The next step is to convert one of the vehicles to burn multi-fuels including compressed natural gas using a compressor in the garage to 'fill the tank'.

February 14, 2014

NRDC and U.S. Utilities Urge Grid Payments for Rooftop Solar

Maine's net metering law only credits your account for power put back into the grid; and doesn't pay you a production cost for it. This is a compromise that has been accepted and pretty much limits the size of a residential installation to zero out an electric bill annually. There are no carry over credits, you are zero'ed out every year.

Obviously, people want to simply get a check for the excess power they put into the grid and it would foster a 'gold rush' of entrepreneurs eager to get money from the utility. Solar and wind vendors are largely behind this shift but there are decades of regulatory law and practice behind the limitations that would have to be changed; the hook is the transmission of the power through feeder lines and switch modifications to handle surges when the sun comes out. Then there is the profit motive, with 'non-profit' corporations investing in large residential wind farms and selling shares.

Hawaii's problems with localized production will only be magnified should other states liberalize their regulation of residential production.

February 12, 2014

Plans Submitted for 320-MW Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Project

Maine is full of old tidal lagoons that once powered a variety of mills and manufacturing plants. While nearly all of them have been breached; with a bit of construction of automated gates and marine turbines they can be put back into service.

I don't think the author has done much research into the design and operation of tidal lagoons; perhaps a vacation in Maine would temper his 'we're first' enthusiasm and add a realistic dimension to his planning. The power of our 11' + tides is awesome!

February 05, 2014

Natural Gas Isn’t a Bridge Fuel, It’s a Gateway Drug

Um, are beer and soda next?

'300 million people x 56 gallons per person x 3.78 liters per gallon x 6 grams of CO2 per liter soda / 1000 g per kg / 978 kg per ton = 389,570 tons of CO2 emitted by soft drinks yearly in America alone.'

Over the past decade, per capita use of electricity has gone up; despite all kinds of efficiency campaigns.

Despite all the CO2 curtailment programs the measurable percentage in the atmosphere has gone up and up.

There doesn't seem to be any correlation between 'warming' and CO2's snowing again, temp is 25 F. When it snows we lose solar radiance and PV panels/vac. tubes are covered. When icing occurs, wind turbines are shut down for avg. of 9 days a year in the N.E. Electricity is used to slowly turn them. You'd be surprised how much electricity large wind turbines use.

January 17, 2014

Northern Exposure: Canadian Hydro in the Spotlight

Maine, too, is poised to profit from a flood of inexpensive Canadian hydro, all while looking at power from tidal and ocean currents.

Standing in the way is a web of political intricacies woven by large corporate wind farmers and Democratic politicians that blocks a rational shift away from subsidizing the unstable energy platform of wind and solar, and redeveloping our own extensive hydro potential and establishing an energy corridor to bring Canadian hydropower into N. New England---although, it appears with the pressure from the Canadian government on the White House both the gas pipeline and the electric transmission lines are now inching towards approval.

Wind subsidies and favored treatment exemptions are already on the chopping block, and anti wind sentiment is swaying decision-making on siting and subsidies.

Wind farming is not the bonanza for Maine's economy once promised; and the supply chain is looking elsewhere for future growth and revenue. The first step is funding a major project to map out potential tidal energy sites along the coast and among the many islands. It will be web based and enable the growing global interest in siting new energy extraction devices with detailed siting information---the Georgia Tech national data base released this past summer is too crude to use; our Atlas will have riparian rights, ecological issues, economic development potential, and prior civil works defined.

Consider it as the ultimate shopping guide for a turbine vendor or a site developer.

Also being planned for this summer is a workshop for property owners who own former mill sites and seek to harness the energy potential for use by their prospective tenants. Often they operate alone and face a daunting and expensive task satisfying 11+ different agencies in regarding hydropower permits. I am in constant contact with small town mill owners and this is a critical need to their being able to convert an old, but renewable mill, into a mixed use 'village' of retail, professional, manufacturing, and residential tenants/owners.

January 03, 2014

Can We Turn Unwanted Carbon Dioxide Into Electricity?

In Maine we have numerous plants that already do this and can store carbon away for up to 100 years at no cost. The technology is proven, been in use for a long time, and is readily employable in many different forms. There are many side benefits that include cleansing out other atmospheric pollutants, separating out the oxygen from the carbon and returning it to the atmosphere, and providing protection from solar radiation and heat.

Amazingly, they are for sale for $10 for a starter plant. Specify whether you prefer hardwood or software or species which maximize CO2 uptake like the Sugar Maple---which also produces a valuable crop.

Stored carbon can be pelletized for use in new clean boilers and wood pellet stoves.

Just send me your order via PAYPAL.

December 11, 2013

Offshore Wind Turbine Vendors Unveil Next-Generation Wind Power Machines

I'm meeting with Sen. Angus King in a few hours to make the case for letting the PTC expire. Part of the 'case' was that we're basically subsidizing foreign companies; and not supply side firms who manufacture critical components in Maine.

This article is dramatic evidence of how little a role U.S. firms play in 'big wind' farming...I was impressed that one manufacturer was even standardizing the entire structure, piping and all.....~~.comes in several shipping containers,and a crew who erects it on your site.....~~

October 09, 2013

US Conservative Voices Grow Louder in Support of Renewable Energy

Many of you forgot all of us who voted for George Bush because of the commitment he showed to both renewables and a low carbon footprint with the ranch home he built in Texas....and all this while Al Gore was flying everywhere spewing H20 and CO2 and living in a mansion.

September 03, 2013

Renewables-based Desalination: A Solution to MENA's Water Crisis

This is probably a wacky idea; but I've always wondered whether oil pipelines could be used to pump salt water into inland lakes and containment areas where natural evaporation would 'moisten' the atmosphere and perhaps result in rainfall. Let nature work its magic.Perhaps even some in-line salt filters could be installed reducing the salt content before the water reached its reservoir.

I've proposed using solar heated salt water ponds to capture heat in winter; but since we are shedding flood water today(MAINE) making potable water was the last thing on my mind.

Aquaculture in greenhouses with salt water pools and capture of evaporated water seems to have engineering potential....can shrimp, etc. be grown this way? are there salt water veggies which can be grown? Is it being done already?

August 07, 2013

Hydroelectric Project Regulation and Development Bills Await President Obama's Signature

It is time to craft complimentary legislation which would simplify and speed up the permitting process in States like Maine where the least cost for DEP permitting is $4,000 for a micro-hydro project costing half that amount.

Maine's many dams, most of which create our recreational paradise by raising the level of formerly shallow ponds, are in need of restoration in such a way that the scenic beauty, watershed and aquatic fishery habitat is protected and enhanced.

A vocal minority is demanding they be breached and removed.....along with the fishery supported by impounded water, drought & flood protection, and the trees nourished by the impound.

Now is the time to lobby for bonds which will renovate and restore these dams in a way that preserves all benefits they offer to shoreline owners, while creating local power distribution grids instead of simple net metering.

When possible, even long gone runs of sea borne fish may be restored, despite the endemic failures witnessed this year, i.e. the salmon count on the Penobscot this year was the lowest on record, even as the alewives filled the viewing room conduit at the Andro. dam in Topsham. We've been long 'told' that if the native Salmon were designated as 'endangered' and if the dams were breached they would return.....but the rivers are still empty. A few marine biologists now recognize that the problem lays far at sea, not in Maine's rivers.

If it is reasonably possible to do so, dam restoration should include suitable fishways; some of which can serve a dual purpose of being 'white water' rapids for Kayakers and canoeists. Shad may be a possibility as they have returned to the Connecticut River.

I have submitted a variety of permitting changes to DEP modeled on those in use in Scotland and UK; and a legislation change which would compel DEP to consider benefits as well as risks when considering >100 KW installations.

April 24, 2013

Support for Hydroelectric Power is Strong, Wyden and McMorris Rodgers Tell NHA Audience

The large elephant in the corner of the hall is TIDAL ENERGY.

Maine's economy and infrastructure was built around thousands of tidal mills starting in the 1700's. Many of the sites can be restored, including the large tidal impounds that went with them.

The once thriving Maine Wind Industry has now formed a new 'supply side' ocean and tidal current association to develop this 'new' source of energy.

Unlike wind and most hydro; tidal energy generation can take place in a restored hydrovillage that includes multi-purpose mill buildings, tidal ponds, and both fishery and recreational opportunities.

Fortunately the tidal impound enables tidal power plants to 'never run dry'.

We are developing a detailed siting atlas of the top 250 tidal energy sites from among the estimated 2,000 along the coast and islands of Maine.

It will be a global, web-enabled shopping guide for energy companies and other developers who want to restore and repurpose old mills.

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