Monday, October 31, 2011

This Halloween, it's time to slay some vampires

National Energy Awareness Month ends today, but our efforts shouldn't.  Save money on your energy bills by learning how to spot and destroy the vampires which are draining the lifeblood from your wallet each month.  Click HERE to view a larger image.


Friday, October 21, 2011

The irk with FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) met yesterday and reaffirmed their approval of MISO's transmission planning process, potentially sparking further litigation. In support of yesterday's actions, FERC issued this press release.

MISO territory map
FERC's Order 1000 speaks to the issue of whether states can be forced to coordinate on transmission planning and meeting cost obligations for new electricity transmission capacity. It holds that states can be compelled -- which, not unexpectedly, has raised some dander.

That is particularly the case in states such as Michigan, where it is believed that the cost of the tariff would not fairly reflect the limited benefits Michigan would receive, given the state's unique geography. The gold-colored areas on the map above shows MISO's territory.

Steven Transeth
Steven Transeth, consultant for MISO Northeast Customer Coalition and former Michigan Public Service Commissioner wrote this article, published earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal, setting out Michigan's case.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Transeth commented that the meeting offered little to improve the situation of Michigan, which he calls the "worst case scenario" among states.  "The Commission's actions demonstrated that, regardless of the rhetoric, FERC intends to push a socialized approach in which rates are not commensurate, costs are not ‘just and reasonable,’ and authority is improperly delegated to a regional group with [differing] loyalties,” said Transeth.

An archived webcast of yesterday's meeting can be found here.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Education...Engineering the Future

Today's headlines shone a clear spotlight on the importance of introducing engineering education to children and young adults as early and often as possible. They are worth sharing here.

Raytheon Donates $1 Million to Expand Engineering is Elementary® Teacher Training

"By helping teachers bring the basic concepts of engineering and technology to life, they will be able to excite future generations of students to become the innovators of tomorrow," said Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson. "We share the Museum of Science's desire to accelerate the adoption of its Engineering is Elementary program, and to support teachers throughout the nation who are committed to instilling a passion for STEM among America's young students."

Elementary schools commonly lack compelling activities and reliable materials for fostering literacy among students in the "E" and "T" of STEM education. The Engineering is Elementary program is designed to fill that gap.

Read complete article here.

Broadcom MASTERS™ 2011 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Competition Winners Announced in Washington, DC

Through his research, first place winner DANIEL FEENY noticed that some sections of the intertidal zone at Pescadero Beach were rich in species, while other sections of the beach were bare. The difference intrigued him, and he wondered if the force of waves striking the shore affects the diversity and number of organisms living there. He designed an experiment to quantify wave forces in different sections of the intertidal zone and correlate this data with the diversity of organisms in each location.

Second place honors and $10,000 goes to BENJAMIN HYLAK, 14, of West Grove, Penn., for his project on the practical application of a telepresence robot. Benjamin's grandmother lives in a senior residence facility, and he noticed that some of her fellow residents had few or no visitors. He wanted to find a new way for residents to connect with family and friends and decided to build an interactive robot, through which people could virtually visit their loved ones at the facility.

Third place honors and $5,000 goes to I-CHUN LIN, 14, of Plano, Texas for her project on dye-sensitized solar cell efficiency and lifespan. As an active member of her school's recycling club, I-Chun wanted to find an inexpensive, eco-friendly way to harness solar power. She learned that dye-sensitized solar cells are cheaper to manufacture than solar panels, but are not nearly as efficient. She hypothesized that a mixture of dyes would be most efficient, helping the cell to increase its voltage output.

Read complete article here.

Students take adventure in Army engineering

More than 400 local high school students visited Redstone Arsenal Sept. 28 for the 11th annual Adventures in Engineering Day.

Aimed at high school juniors, the purpose of this event was to promote science and engineering disciplines as a career choice. It offered the students an opportunity to observe what engineers do on a daily basis, provided them with hands-on knowledge and encouraged their pursuit of a science.

Read complete article here.

Engineering camp for girls lacks necessary funds

The four-week program, which held its first session this July, aims to introduce high school girls to engineering and provide them the fundamentals and camaraderie necessary to pursue engineering through college. Many of the campers could be the first in their families to attend college.

Serrino said she has noticed more and more women dropping out of the engineering program during her three years at Brown. Women often lack confidence in their intellectual abilities, especially in math and science, she said. Confidence is a key factor for success in higher levels of engineering, she said.

Read complete article here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October is National Energy Awareness Month!

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Government first set aside time to raise energy awareness in 1981 with American Energy Week, which was observed from 1981 through 1985. It became a month-long observance at the DOE in 1986. On September 13, 1991, President George Bush proclaimed October as Energy Awareness Month. Since then, DOE has been conducting energy awareness campaigns each year that promote the wise and efficient use of our nation's energy.

2011's theme is Turn Words into Action; Turn Action into Results.  This short article provides some actions you may wish to incorporate this month: