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Heartland Voices: renewables, energy bills, and the future of clean energy!

5 years ago | Dec 30, 2014
By: Darrel Hart
 Darrell Hart is one of CEP’s most dedicated volunteers.  His blog post for Heartland Voices offers a fresh perspective on our work, energy bills, and the future of clean energy.  Enjoy! - Rachel
IDarrel Hart (right) volunteering at the Kansas State Fair grew up on a southeast Kansas farm and I now live in Wichita. I am still involved with a farm near McPherson. I have worked for many years for a manufacturer in Illinois servicing the aircraft industry and heavy industry including wind energy. I found my strong passion for renewable energy at the first public meeting in Hutchinson announcing Siemens would move wind turbine production to Kansas.Not too long after that I began learning from and volunteering with the good people at Climate and Energy Project.

What are you excited about regarding energy or the environment?

I’m glad you ask if I am excited about energy issues because I just found something right under my nose. I was looking at our electric bill and the string of charges making up the total when I spotted one titled "Fuel”. I hadn’t given it any thought before.Looking into it I learned that on top of the rate charge, we also pay separately for the uranium, gas, and coal burned on our behalf. Fuel costs are unpredictable and go up and down as often as does this charge.On this particular bill it was about 18% of my total. I was thinking about that and how wind energy never adds to this column. Just the opposite happens. The more wind, solar or hydroelectricity used, the smaller this number becomes. This column is the savings available to each of us if the utility had used more wind energy. We can look at it in this personal way, or it may be more interesting seeing it reflected as the grand total for all of us. In 2012 Kansas transferred $570 million out of state to buy coal according to a 2014 study by The Union Of Concerned Scientists. This is the measure of our potential through renewables, an amazing half a billion dollars that renewables can compete for annually. If that doesn’t make people feel good about what we can achieve by adding more clean energy, I don’t know what will.

Another interesting item on the electric bill is the "Environment Charge”. That’s what you owe to store your depleted radioactive uranium, to handle fly ash and filter your smoke. My share this month is $1.91. I don’t want to brag, but I spend more than that on ketchup.It’s great theatre for politicians to rage against this, expending their emotions for the smallest charge on the page, but none for "Fuel”, the only one that can deliver significant savings.

Last year I researched and then joined Operation Free, a coalition of military veterans and national security experts advocating for clean locally sourced energy to secure America. Operation Free recognizes climate change and our dependence on fossil fuel as a national security risk. At all levels of government we advocate for renewable energy and veterans jobs. Veterans make up about 4.5% of the workforce but even greater in the renewable sectors, up to 10% in solar. These jobs are tickets to the middle class for some of our soldiers and sailors. Supporters of Operation Free is dedicated to explaining to legislators and the public how new clean energy sources can make our nation safer and richer.

What are you concerned about regarding energy or the environment?

For several years I have been concerned with the volume of false information about wind and solar equipment performance and costs. So for the second year I decided to help people learn more about these technologies and what they can do for us. I volunteered to work for Climate and Energy Project at the Kansas State Fair.It was a great experience. I don’t know where else I could have listened and talked to several hundred people in only three days. Public support this year for clean low cost energy was even greater than before.People have a positive attitude towards it and hundreds took action to contact their state representatives in Kansas to support RPS. I found it extremely encouraging that the public came to us with information they had heard, some of it false, and trusted us to explain it correctly.The public likes clean energy a lot, and I can say positively they want more of it coming into their houses.

Think big: what’s on the horizon?

Batteries, batteries, batteries. There’s no going back. Battery prices are falling and manufacturing plants are expanding and churning out new kinds of energy storage systems specialized for cars, utility scale or home use. Germany is a leader with Denmark in many of the new energy technologies and their willingness to implement them drives down prices. Germany anticipates that tens of thousands of home and business solar owners will shop for batteries in the next three years. Following recent scares that Russia might withhold natural gas, they see solar with storage as essential for resilience against disasters natural or political. Large utility scale batteries are also on the horizon. Earlier this year a German utility added a 2 Megawatt battery to serve a residential neighborhood. It can carry the neighborhood for a couple of hours, but its primary asset is it "smooths” the peaks and valleys of demand which until now are met by massive and wasted over generation. Utilities can install a few of these batteries into a city grid and let wind and solar pick up much of the base load. Fuel will be saved and pollution avoided. Last month in Texas an even larger capacity battery went into operation. The results were identical, wind and solar can fill more of our needs when coupled with batteries. The change batteries will bring is especially significant because it diminishes the belief that carbon emissions are a mandatory component of human prosperity. On the contrary, emissions are evidence of inefficiency, wasted profit, and health risks that over time, new clean energy and grid technologies will correct to the benefit of all.


Comments (2)

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  1. Les Blevins's avatar Les Blevins

    Mr. Hart please contact me if interested in how hundreds of jobs for vets could be created through collaboration between our two organizations and one or two others.

    Les Blevins, President

    Advanced Alternative Energy

    1207 N 1800 Rd., Lawrence, KS 66049

    Phone 785-842-1943

    #2 – 2 January, 2015 at 12:40 pm

  2. Les Blevins's avatar Les Blevins

    I believe we will do better if we can show the world a much more viable means of enabling greenhouse emissions reductions globally, and a way to power society on extraction of greenhouse gasses already emitted into the atmosphere.

    Here is a notice being posted on Linkedin and elsewhere.


    Advanced Alternative Energy Corp. (AAEC) is for those who understand that distributed alternative/renewable energy derived from biomass and waste is a viable pathway to stall global warming and produce a better future for our descendants, our communities and for humanity.

    AAEC has developed a new concept low-carbon energy technology we’ve designed for serving as the core technology for cleaner renewable energy production systems and energy efficiency improvements across the North American landscape and around the world. AAEC’s novel new concept technology consists of a biomass, fossil fuel, and/or waste combustion, gasification and pyrolysis conversion technology that can provide scalable heat and power requirements as well as biofuel production for stand-alone use or for backup for other alternative energy systems that depend on solar, wind or other intermittent sources of energy, and in this way it will help double the deployment of alternative energy projects around the world in the coming decades.

    AAEC’s product lines can be manufactured in the US and in most any locality on any continent for the local and regional market. This AAEC believes could create licensing opportunities and many thousands more good paying jobs, and these are among the things we propose offering to an alternative energy hungry world.

    For further details please contact:

    Les Blevins, President

    Advanced Alternative Energy

    1207 N 1800 Rd., Lawrence, KS 66049

    Phone 785-842-1943


    For more info see

    "It is in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply — and the way forward is through technology.”

    - President George W. Bush, 2007 State of the Union Address

    #1 – 2 January, 2015 at 11:56 am

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