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Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1607
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, July 28, 2008 - 10:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The thread about conserving gas got me thinking about T. Boone Pickens and his plan to start getting us off of foreign oil dependency.

http://www.pickensplan.com/

I am sure you have seen his commercials, and from what I see about his plan it looks like we could make a sizable dent in the amount of imported foreign oil.

What scares me is if we get NObama in the White House, nothing at all will happen to move us away from buying oil from people who hate us. The Democrats have no plans except for saying no to every good idea so they can maintain their villification of big oil companies and their obscene profits.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1724
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 02:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pickens is jumping on a big bandwagon. The Economist recently had a long special report on alternative power and replacements for oil. They say that wind is poised for a major growth in the near future and could cover between 10% and 20% of total US energy needs quite soon. The rate-limiting step is the need for long-haul DC power lines to bring the power to where it is needed, and that's just a matter of money. This isn't one man's vision but just accepted wisdom in the energy industry.

Your knock on Obama for not having a good alternative energy plan is entirely valid. But McCain hasn't impressed me either. He seems like one of those dolls which repeat a phrase when you pull a string. "Offshore drilling!" "ANWR Drilling!" "Offshore drilling!" "ANWR drilling!" He seems unable to comprehend that there exist possibilities other than new supplies of oil, and his abandonment of his earlier principles on the environment undermine his credibility.

Maybe it's wrong to expect a couple of senators to understand the science behind the different alternative energy policies. But I'm appalled at just how little they seem to know about such an important topic. It makes me disgusted with both of them. In the end, they'll probably just throw more money at the corn farmers because that's what Congress has always done, not because it makes any sense. Ugh.
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1608
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 07:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I share your disgust. This is a bigger threat to us than Radical Islam. We need to get our priorities in line.

We need to attack this issue on ALL fronts.

How much energy do yuo think we could produce with solar panels on every rooftop in the USA? That, along with wind turbines, more drilling, biofuels, and better urban transit planning could have us energy independent in 10 years.

We must come together and treat this like a war. One we cannot lose.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1725
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 11:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Whoa.

Bob and I are in agreement on a topic in World Expressions.

The earth must be tipping off its axis. Does anyone hear a grinding noise?

I don't have a direct answer to your question about roof-top panels, but here's a snippet from the Economist article about solar-thermal power. (Unlike photo-voltaic, solar-thermal is best collected in huge mirror complexes out in the desert and shipped to cities using the same DC long-haul lines that wind will need.) "Two years ago a task force put together by the governors of America’s western states identified 200 gigawatts-worth of prime sites for solar-thermal power within their territory (meaning places that had enough reliable sunshine, were close to transmission lines and were not environmentally or politically sensitive). That is equivalent to 20% of America’s existing electricity-generation capacity: not a bad start."

Many alternatives are now near price-parity with oil-fired and gas-fired generation plants and several are approaching price-parity with coal. If the politicians can avoid mucking up the market, lots of new alternative generation will come on the market in the next ten years.

But that's a big "if". I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: I buy wind-generated electricity for my home. The price is set at 110% of the standard coal/gas/oil/nuclear mix for my area. So, as the price of oil and gas has gone up, so has the price of my wind power. I was willing to take the hit when wind was more expensive, why shouldn't I get rewarded for my good behavior when it is cheaper? Blame the DPUC rate-setting mechanism and the politicians who set it up. NOT the way to encourage the use of alternatives!
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1942
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Same here Paul. A few years back our utility offered us an opportunity to get in on buying wind power as a portion of our supply. There was just something about the terms on the higher cost that bugged me at the time and I opted out. Assuming our story would have been similar to yours I'm glad I did.

I realize wind is expensive to start up. Those turbines are crazy expensive. However, the way to get people to participate in alternative energy sources is NOT to charge them more than fossil fuel sources when fossil fuels are at an all-time high.

Then again I'm convinced our utility is a bunch of criminals anyway, so I don't trust anything they do.
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1943
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 12:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh, and Bob, the Pickens video was interesting enough to at least keep an eye on. I signed up for updates to follow what he's doing.
 

Robert
Member
Username: Okierat

Post Number: 178
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 01:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Isn't Pickens putting up his own money for this? I thought he was. Anyway, on the US75 between Tulsa and Bartlesville where I live you will see the parts for these turbines moving north. I think there is a plant somewhere near here. Quite a few are being built.
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1944
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 01:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Discovery Channel has a show called "Really Big Things". They've had a couple episodes that looked at renewable energy sources. They went to a windmill plant in Germany and they also had a very interesting episode on solar collectors in an array in the desert that supply power to Stirling engines. Just the six dishes supplied something like 25kw of power.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/stirling-engine.htm

Pretty cool show. Intentionally dopey to keep it entertaining, but there's some really good information that comes out of it as well.

Here's some more information about the solar site:

http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2004/renew-energy-batt/Stirling.html

(Message edited by mikhu on July 29, 2008)
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1726
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 01:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike, I'm still (just barely) willing to pay the extra $$ for clean, domestic power. But I think it's stupid policy. If the state gov't wants to encourage the installation of turbines, it should just grant the utility a direct subsidy to do so. Building a permanent dis-incentive into the retail pricing structure is moronic. My only guess is that the old-line utilities pumped some serious cash into the re-election campaigns of everyone on the relevant legislative committees.

When I was in Hawaii in April, I got to see the wind farm at the southern tip of the big island. "Majestic" doesn't begin to describe the look of those huge turbines going around. Like Calder sculptures moving in the breeze. Just beautiful.

The local NIMBYs are in full roar right now, trying to prevent the installation of turbines on top of a couple of nearby ridgelines. They claim the turbines will destroy the view. They must never have actually seen the things in motion. I wouldn't mind looking at them. Knowing that each one represents X fewer tankers steaming into New Haven harbor would only make them look better to me.
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1945
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 02:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We have a wind tunnel just to the SE of where we live. They wanted to put up some towers on some farmland. The NIMBY's were out of control on that one. It got voted down.

The ones that really take the cake are the Nantucket Sound NIMBY's. That one is out in the friggin' ocean.
 

David Lewinnek
Intermediate Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 466
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 02:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One of the huge issues with our electricity is the way the utilities are paid. Basically, the less efficient their customers are, the more the utility bosses get paid. If they can significantly reduce efficiency and justify building a new power plant, they get paid even more.

Also, I just looked up the energy policies of Obama and McCain. Surprisingly, they look pretty similar. Both involve a cap and trade system, next generation biofuels (cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel), and money for energy R&D.

Here are some links to the candidates energy policies. I find the capitalization in the second McCain link a little odd.

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/energy/
http://www.johnmccain.com/informing/issues/65bd0fbe-737b-4851-a7e7-d9a37cb278db. htm
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/da151a1c-733a-4dc1-9cd3-f9ca5caba1de. htm
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1728
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 03:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

David,

Both candidates claim to support a cap-and-trade system. But neither has proposed linking to the existing EU cap-and-trade system, which would be the easiest way to do it. So I have doubts about their sincerity. They also want to place limits on which companies or industries can trade permits internationally; the current plan is to prevent any trading with direct foreign competitors. That pretty much guts the whole plan from the start.

As I said before, McCain has pretty much destroyed his own credibility on environmental issues (where he once was the clear leader) by harping on about new drilling. And Obama talks about the environment but stresses bio-fuels rather than wind and solar, which emit much less carbon overall. Pathetic.

Both are big on bio-fuels (read: money for farmers) and R&D (read: money for industry). Both plans are all carrot and no stick. Neither will touch nuclear with a 10-foot pole, except to promise that Yucca Mountain will never open. (Nuclear is still one of our best options, but someone has to have the balls to override the NIMBYs on waste. Neither candidate looks up to the task.)

In short, I'm still not impressed with either one.

You are 100% correct about the warped incentives for utilities. It's totally bass-ackwards.

Here's another example: Long Island needs more power. There are existing disturbed corridors across Long Island Sound with room to accept new gas pipelines and electric cables. But utilities make a percentage of the cost of building new facilities and building NEW corridors costs a lot more. So we are constantly fighting against plans to site new lines where they will tear up virgin shellfish beds and further constrain shipping. A different payment structure would encourage the use of existing corridors instead. No chance that will happen at least until Bush and Cheney leave office.
 

Keith M Williams
Member
Username: Grok

Post Number: 229
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 06:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a friend who is a staunch environmentalist. He opposes wind power because it "frags bats." He opposes nuclear because of the radioactive waste. He opposes all oil and coal based fuels. (oh man, I learned never to speak the word COAL) He opposes Hydro-electric. He opposes solar because of the manufacturing methods used to make the solar cells. I once asked him if we should go back to horse and buggy. The answer was NO. Because, what would we do with all the manure.

I'm not kidding.
 

HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 382
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 06:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If the nation has the interest we have enough material to sustain our electrical needs far into the future.

A system of fast breeder reactors and reprocessing (recycling) could convert the precious DU we want to dispose of as waste, the fast reactors could help burn the reprocessing waste

Of course this would take a national initiative, require infrastructe changes and require support in the future by each Congress and Administration.

Since that will never happen we will always be at the mercy of the status quo and look for the low hanging fruit.
 

David Lewinnek
Intermediate Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 467
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 06:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree that nuclear would help. I also think there are places for solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. However, I think the single biggest change we could make is to re-structure the energy market so that conservation is economically feasible.

Today, most homebuilders don't pay to heat or illuminate the homes they build. They put in the cheapest insulation they can get away with, install the cheapest heating systems they can get away, and so on. It doesn't matter if a few efficiency upgrades would pay for themselves in a year or two; the builder will never see that money, so why should he/she spend it? The same goes with most office buildings, where one company owns the building and leases to a tenant who pays the utility bills. The people who pay for the energy wasters (bad insulation, leaky air ducts, etc.) don't reap the benefits from lower energy bills. A well regulated free market could solve these problems, but we don't have a market looking for solutions right now.
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 6859
Registered: 01-2001
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - 05:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Keith, just so you know, not all of us who are environmentally "active" are complete wackos like that!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 9084
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - 05:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't agree with everything Pickens advocates, but this is a huge shot in the arm for alternative energy. It sends a clear message to non-environmentalists that someone who made a billion dollars in the oil business now believes the end is in sight for petroleum-based energy sources.

Both Obama and McCain need to realize that a sea change in attitudes in occurring. It's time for them to exercise leadership rather than cater to special interests.

(Message edited by BillPierce on July 30, 2008)
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1729
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - 08:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There are TWO unexpected groups now in the environmental camp, and they are upsetting all the old calculations. One is made up of people like Pickens, old oil guys who see a new way to earn a buck. Not all of them may believe that global warming is an existential threat. But they know they smell money being made.

The other group is the religious right at the grass-roots level. More and more hardcore Baptists and Evangelicals are taking seriously the Biblical command to take care of the earth and the living things on it. This is already driving change in lots of unexpected places.

The depth of religious community's commitment hasn't fully dawned on its own leaders yet. They still seem to think that being religious is all about abortion and gay marriage. But a younger group of leaders is riding this wave up, and the older ones will catch on.

Both of these groups have been solidly Republican for a couple of decades and will probably remain so. The result is that we'll soon see the Republican part become the party of environmentalism. McCain used to be an environmentalist, so he is poised to benefit from this (assuming he can find where he left his spine). If he doesn't, someone else will. It will be a wild ride.
 

Keith M Williams
Member
Username: Grok

Post Number: 231
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - 11:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, there is a third sub set. This group is not that new but also tends to vote R, Libertarian back to the earth types. I count myself as one. We tend to be more practical in our approach and less idealistic. This is also the group that is making small scale alternative energy systems that work. One of my favorite sites is BackWoodsHome.com.
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2181
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 04:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Pickens Plan is interesting and workable. Of course we all know that he is heavily invested in natural gas and wind turbine power so his plan would make him a ton of money. But this is America and everyone has the right to make a ton of money if they can. I like the fact that he is taking his pitch to the public instead of putting a bunch of Senators in his pocket and just legislating his way to his goal.

My view is that the Government needs to regulate who provides what. Meaning an oil company can not make ethanol and an ethanol company can not make oil or hydrogen or whatever. Create a free market system where the engergy providers have to compete for what we put in our engines. My wife worked for a gas company that wanted to buy a small electric utility in North Florida. The feds crawled up their butts for nearly a year before approving the purchase because they didn't want the company to manipulate prices by moving electricty in concert with gas. They were granted to okay to purchase the electric company because they were not the only player in town with regards to gas and were in fact not the largest gas company in town.

I also think that farm subsidies should only go to farmers growing crops for food or for cattle consumption. That is one way to get farmers to move to more efficient ethanol crops like switch grasses.

Both candidates have an energy plan that is light years better than any administration in the past, but the idea of drilling our way out of this is just propaganda. If we sell oil rights to Exxon for ANWR and they can harvest the oil for say 8 dollars a barrel, that oil is still going to be sold on the global market for $120 per barrel. That is why there are so many oil leases that have not been explored today, if you are Exxon your money is better spent greasing Senators to open up lands that the oil can be harvested cheaply than to drill in West Texas where it will cost you $50 per barrel to harvest and you will only see a profit of $70 per barrel. Let those lands lay until the price of oil is $200 or more and then drop a drill on it.

Mandate that every car produced must be able to run on flex fuels (even hydrogen and natural gas) and make sure the engergy producers can not monopalize the markets and then let the free market system work for us.

-Doug
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 5727
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 07:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In the long run, we need better batteries so power can be centrally generated using a variety of methods and waste products can be treated economically.

I don't know why we can have battery exchange stations along the highways just like gas stations. It could be totally automated where you just drive over a contraption and your discharged battery is replaced by a charged one.
All it would take is some simple mounting hardware under the car.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1730
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 11:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

100 years ago, London had a fleet of buses which worked just like that. They drove up a ramp in the garage when the batteries ran low. The bank of exhausted (lead-acid) batteries would be dropped out and a charged bank lifted into place. The bus was back on the road in 10 minutes.

That bus line folded because its primary backer was an international swindler and con man. He sucked all the revenue out of the company to fund scams in Switzerland and France. As a result, the idea was discredited and never revived, even though it worked fine and the bus line made money. It could work again, if we wanted it to.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 5729
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 01:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pity.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1732
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 11:19 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It took me a while to dig up the link. Here it is. Let me know if the site demands that you register in order to view it; I'll excerpt it here instead.

http://www.economist.com/search/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9719105
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 9086
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 12:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

That's a fascinating piece of history, Paul. Thanks for the link.

It reminds me of the fact that GM bought up a number of municipal electric streetcar systems in the 1930s and '40s to eliminate competition for autos. I know Detroit's streetcars, for example, ended up in Mexico City, and the elimination of the "Red Cars" in Los Angeles set back public transit there by 50 years.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1733
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 02:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tire makers played a big part in that, too, since bus tires wore out so much faster than tram wheels.

I remember reading a book, probably 25 years ago, which documented how a consortium of auto, tire, and oil companies systematically targeted city after city. They would pick a city and back the election of friendly city council members with all the money necessary. The city government would then vote to replace "old-fashioned" light rail with "modern" buses. As soon as enough rail infrastructure was destroyed to make the change permanent, they would move on, abandoning their friends on the council to spend the money in a new city. Only the very biggest cities were able to withstand the onslaught. Almost all of the smaller ones caved.

New Haven was one that caved. My house is in a suburb about 8 miles from the city center. It takes me 20 - 25 minutes to drive downtown, and much longer at rush hour, since I have to go over a congested bridge. From the late 1800's until about 1950, there was a streetcar stop two blocks from here, with a direct line to the city center. And this wasn't nearly the end of the line. You can walk the old railbed eastward for miles. It kills me to think that those streetcars were taken out as part of some deliberate, cynical campaign.
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1614
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 04:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I recently discovered that Honda is already marketing a car that runs on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). this would dovetail nicely with the Pickens Plan, but unfortunately, they only sell them in select markets and it looks like the closest dealer to Atlanta is in New York.

Here's a link to Honda's car:
http://automobiles.honda.com/civic%2Dgx/

The coolest thing about this car is that there is an appliance you can mount on your garage wall that ties in with your existing natural gas line which will allow you to fill your own tank at home.

The down side to this is that unless you live in California or New York, you are limited to your own home-filling station.

I am not really in the market for a car at this time, but in a couple years, maybe things will change and this alternative will be more available nationwide.
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 1946
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 05:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I would assume if there was a demand for them it would be no big deal for manufacturers to start building more NG cars. There are fleet vehicles all over the country that run on it already. Of course those fleet vehicles are usually in the NG utility companies, imagine that, but they do exist.
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1615
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 08:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The problem is the high capacity, high pressure, filling stations. they are quite rare. The Fleet vehicles get filled by PRIVATE stations.

It'd be nice to have a few local PUBLIC stations where you can get your tank filled in a couple minutes as sompared to the 15 hours the wall-mounted unit takes.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 9088
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 09:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, last Saturday my wife and I were driving back home from the annual Iowa bike ride, and we stopped for dinner at the Flossmoor Station brewpub in suburban Chicago (the timing was right and it was only a couple of miles out of the way). The pub is located in a fully operational commuter rail station (not streetcars or light rail, but electrified heavy rail). During that time several trains stopped at the station. I thought how much more pleasant the downtown commute would be via rail, especially with the reward of good beer when you got off the train after returning from work.

Another suburban Chicago brewpub (America's Brewpub in Aurora) is also housed in a commuter rail station (a magnificent old roundhouse from the heyday of steam), and at least one other (Mickey Finn's in Libertyville, IL) is within walking distance. Salt Lake City now has modern light rail transit, but there is a brewpub (Deseret Brewing) in the city's old trolley barn, now a boutique shopping mall. Willoughby Brewing in suburban Cleveland is located in an old streetcar maintenance facility.

If we didn't have to fight traffic behind the wheel, we might actually be able to drink a beer or two as part of our daily commute. There's a lot to be said for a return to old patterns and lifestyles. It's going to take some major changes to turn around the low-density housing distribution we've come to favor in the 20th century, but the energy situation might be the impetus. After all, there are benefits.

(Message edited by BillPierce on August 01, 2008)
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1734
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008 - 11:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, many of the cities along the commuter rail line from New York to New Haven are thinking exactly along the same lines you are. These are mostly old industrial towns with empty centers looking for revival. Many have re-zoned the areas around the rail station and pushed for clustered housing and retail within walking distance. The target audience is young people working in NYC.

You know what? It works! Wherever it has been done, there is a vibrant cluster right around the station full of people who never get in a car during their commute. (I don't know how many have brewpubs in the area.) It's been so successful that towns further east are starting to do the same thing, targeting people who take the (separate) commuter line into New Haven every day.

These are heavy-rail commuter lines running on the Amtrak tracks. But there is no reason that the same trick couldn't be done with light rail systems and even bus lines.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 9090
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2008 - 01:04 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

That's good news, Paul. The solution to the problem is to provide living situations where families need only a single small, fuel efficient (hybrid or electric) car that they drive less than 10,000 miles per year. Routine shopping and much of the entertainment would be close to home, and there would be convenient public transit to work and school. The model works reasonably well in Europe, where gas has been more than $5 per gallon (now more like $9) for years. Those North Americans who embrace this idea will enjoy considerable benefits. You don't have to be a tree-hugging environmentalist to see how it can work. It's just good dollars and cents (sense).

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