Monday, November 26, 2007

Nuclear plants a welcome neighbor?

The very notion seems to run counter to what most people believe is the common reaction to having a nuclear power plant as a neighbor. However, in New Jersey it is exactly what is going on.

PSEG runs the nuclear plant in Salem on what is called the Artificial Island. Recently they announced that they would very much like to go ahead with plans for expansion. Instead of local protests, they were met with cheers. Expansion means more jobs for this area of the country and jobs are very much needed.

Not only that but there are other things to consider such as the tax breaks that those who live near the reactor receive. Other monetary benefits lay with the fact that PSEG makes large charity donations and with all of that money being handled, it is no wonder that most of the locals embrace their nuclear neighbor.

Even without the protestors there are enough obstacles to get through in getting the fourth plant up and running. PSEG still has to decide what type of reactor it will be, there are billions of dollars in cost, and it will take a long time before it is up and running which leaves us to wonder what kind of reception might this new plant get ten years from now? Will PSEG continue to perform well and not slide back into trouble? How will new technologies impact not just the final plant but the building of it as well? If the US is faced with a new terror attack, will things such as nuclear plants be put aside?

No one holds a crystal ball to see what the future holds but we do know that the US is continually increasing energy demands and we have a long way to go before they will be met for our future generations.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Upping it a notch with green cars

The Hybrids vehicles such as the Prius have become far more popular than what was expected I think. Soaring oil and gas prices have helped them along as has the fact that the newer generations of them have what the Honda Insight lacked, room. The Prius has better gas mileage than my little Suzuki AND gets better gas. Another advantage is the savings now. Not have only new cars appear to be coming out at a higher price point and with that, the overall spread between non-hybrid and hybrid has shrunk. Now all the owners need to happen is for the pricing of parts to come down so that repairs do not cost an arm and a leg. A friend of mine gave up his hybrid after needing to do minor repairs that cost thousands each year. The Chevy
truck had 1) more room and 2) was less expensive to operate in the long haul.

NOW though we see the next generation of fuel efficient cars coming out and they are greener than green (not really, just sounds really good. They actually have a variety of colours.). One in particular is already starting to make a splash in the United States even though the price point is pretty high. Good thing it is a lease only vehicle but that raises the spectre of the old electric car that GM had out there, owners loved, and GM pulled.

How big of a splash are these types of cars making? Really big. In the Marketing Watch by Media Matters, Karl Greenberg writes on how the new green cars are overtaking the muscle cars at car shows.
News of powerful vehicles with big engines and bigger gas tanks was overshadowed -- perhaps for the first time - by news of new powertrain programs and think tanks.

With a backdrop of smoldering hills and record crude oil prices, General Motors, Honda and Ford were among automakers that used the show as a platform to announce multi-year programs.

He went on to write that Ford actually had a sustainability blue print that encompassed not just the new alternative energy goals but also included impact on the environment and climate change. Seriously, when was the last time you expected to hear something like this at a car expo?

Now, the big Papa of the show. The Honda FCX Clarity sedan. Let me type that again: SEDAN. This is no small vehicle but it will get you almost 70 miles to the gallon and have a driving range of about 270 miles. Oh and is the first fuel cell type vehicle on the US market. If you live in California and want to plop down $600 a month for three years, she can be all your's. The big drawback?
For now, those drivers will have to stay in Southern California where they will have access to the limited number of hydrogen fuel stations.

Of course there are a few of them and plans for more but we will still have to wait and see what the future holds for us and our love affair with the American open road.

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