Friday, October 22, 2010

Richard Lorson, 1928-2010

Richard Lorson, the author of this blog, passed away on Monday, October 18, 2010 at the age of 82. I am Richard's son, who pushed him to start writing this blog because I thought his strong support for the use of more hydroelectric power was a message that deserved a forum during this time when all policy makers are looking for ways to protect the environment and reduce the reliance on foreign oil.

Dad enjoyed writing this blog, and although it never really developed much of a readership it was something that brought him a little joy in the twilight of his life.

Anyway, if you have stumbled on this blog for the first time, go back to the beginning and read it through. These are some of the final writings of a brilliant man whose opinions, thoughts and presence will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Natural vs. Unnatural Gas

There’s gas and there’s gasoline and then there are gaseous elements such as Oxygen, Helium, Hydrogen, Neon and Nitrogen and there are gaseous compounds such as Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Sulfur Dioxide and Methane. And that brings us to our current interest: Natural Gas.

Methane is the main component of natural gas and in its pure state is said to be nontoxic, abundant with a clean burning process.

So what’s all the current fuss about natural gas not being a truly “green” fuel?

Ok, a short reminder of what “a green fuel” is. The general meaning of Green Energy is energy that is produced in a manner that has less of an undesirable impact on the ecology or environment of the earth than do more harmful energy sources like the fossil fuels, coal oil and gas.

The “greener” energy forms are solar, wind, geothermal and most important and cleanest – hydropower.

So the argument for natural gas being a cleaner or greener form of energy turns out to be one of degree. In other words, as we will see, natural gas (NG) is only somewhat cleaner than the other fossil fuels.

Examples: When burned NG produces 29% less carbon dioxide than oil and 44% less than coal. When it comes to sulfur dioxide NG is 1,122 times cleaner than oil and 2,591 times cleaner than coal. But NG only appears green when compared to the other fossil sources. Actually it burns cleaner than the others BUT IT IS NOT CLEAN!.

And then there are always greenhouse gasses (GHGs) to consider. NG produces less of them than coal or oil but it still emits a large amount of the GHGs also. As one expert in Otego, New York pointed out, “Burning as much as possible of something producing relatively less GHGs is not the best way to reduce GHGs.” True enough

There are lot of concerned voices out there and among them are Stan Cox who in writing for has said, among other meaningful things, “Holding out the prospect of vast new domestic resources, the natural gas industry is promising to make the United States an energy-rich nation once again. But we should be careful what we wish for. Spending those riches could endanger water supplies for millions of Americans while still failing to solve the climate crisis.”

In other words natural gas is not the natural candidate to clean up the atmosphere and the planet.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hydro Today

Anyone who has followed our writings in the past year or so is aware of our almost fierce dedication to the cause of replacing all the fuels that criminally pollute our air, water and lands with power generated by the flow of clean reusable water.

One might also remember that our reverence for ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau knows no bounds and would remind everyone that the words pollution and saccage had new meanings due in part to his use of them.

We have also bombarded our readers with statistics galore: Water covers 70-75% of the earth; 3% of the earth’s water is fresh but only about half of that is available – the rest tied up in glaciers; 97% of the earth’s water is salt (brackish) the rest usable; only 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable, etc, etc, etc.

As a result of these statistics and a lot more, the question arises as to how can water be the answer to our fossil fuel generation pollution, including clean air, water and land if so little is available?

The answer is – it can with a lot of serious and continuous efforts on the part of humanity all around the world.

An example is in Africa, part of the so-called third world. Africa is a major area in which there is not enough clean water for children to drink resulting in abysmal infant and child death rates. In that same continent there are a number of huge waterfalls that could be “tamed” and made to generate millions of kilowatts of power which in turn could be used in to generate clean water – life saving water so badly needed today.

The desalination of water – also a subject of earlier writings – is another source of clean water – unlike hydropower developed by flowing or falling water. To desalinate (remove the salt from) sea water great amounts of heat are required and that heat is developed by burning of a fuel such as oil or natural gas. Fortunately coal is not used for desalination because sources of coal are not found close to the seacoasts.

We can, and will, go into the details of how unclean water is made safe to drink and use. There are a number of processes used and the history of their development and regularly improved use is one of the 20-21st century’s inspiring stories.

For now, we can all agree that clean water, clean hydropower and resulting clean ecology are certainties when the best efforts of humanity are put to their development and growth.

The Hydro Folks, as we have come to be known, are an expanding group and having more and more to say about relieving the fossil fuels of their burden very soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More on the Oxymoron

The oxymoron, just so we’re clear, is defined as “a figure of speech in which two contradictory terms appear together for emphasis.” An example: “deafening silence.”

Here we have applied the term to Clean Coal and with very good reason.

We say this in spite of (or perhaps because of) the recent rash of “clean coal” commercials being aired on TV and radio – using actors with very calm and reassuring voices. There is an awful lot of coal out there and we are supposed to believe it is the answer to using imported oil!

If it could be burned without polluting the air and ground it would be a serious answer the ecological and political problems connected to Arabian (Mideast) oil.

But it can’t. Why?

Well, look at what coal is made up of. Depending on the type of coal, its carbon content is between 70% and 92%. And it’s that carbon which is released into the atmosphere polluting not just the air but ground and water as well.

Well, there are a lot of people who cares less about coal’s impact on our ecology and our children’s future health than they do about the fact that coal is plentiful and cheap (maybe not so much) and that coal is the major fuel used for the generation of “cheap” electricity.

And the coal industry has been busy selling the “goodness of clean coal.”

So listen to David DiMartino, spokesman for the Clean Energy Works campaign who says, ”The coal industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars misrepresenting what they do and the health effects on the American People” (Italics ours)

CEW campaign is a coalition of about 60 environmental groups, labor unions, religious organizations and veterans groups that want climate legislation. “It’s hard to believe anything they say when they’ve been caught using phony people and they’ve been caught writing phony letters.”

Josh Dorner with the Sierra Club points out the environmental as well as health costs to using coal: “They pretend to have an easy, no-cost solution to all of our problems,” he said. “If you say that there’s a solution to something and there’s absolutely no cost, that’s not very genuine. There are tons of hidden costs.” ” When you realize the true cost of coal, it’s not the cheapest resource,” he added

And that’s our case for today. And tomorrow

Sunday, February 14, 2010

So, What’s Next?

That’s always an interesting – and necessary – question. Time marches on and progress or lack of it leaves a mark. It’s all up to the human race to provide the answer; well, most of the time.

Of course, nature has its way whether we like it or not, but in many cases we are able to use nature’s functions to our advantage and occasionally for our survival. All of which leads to the questions, “What have we learned?” and “How will we use this knowledge?”

It wouldn’t hurt to start with another question: “What happened?”

In a few words: The Industrial Revolution - generally considered to have happened between 1820 and 1870.

Using a few more words, consider it the conversion of the “western world” from an agrarian world to an economy based on human labor and fueled by energy from the ground and rivers. One source uses the analogy of “a change from hand and home production to machine and factory.”

And what happened was that all the new activity required major uses of energy that in the past had been ignored, unknown or underdeveloped.

And now the world ecology is in shambles. In varying degrees from “fair” to “very bad” everywhere you care to look. And there is only a beginning to the recognition of the problem and the need to make corrections.

Granted, some major corporations in the US are making promises to “contribute to the greening of America.” And some world governments are beginning to enact laws that will limit the use of contaminating fuels. These are good signs but, again, only a beginning.

So what’s to be done? Must humanity revert to an agrarian society? Close the factories and resume the hand-making of needed products? What about heating homes in the winter? And cooling needed areas in the summer?

What about transportation? Can we only travel as far as our horses can carry us? Or bring our meager products to town in horse-drawn carts?

Actually, none of the above.

Our regular readers, and students, have seen our clear vision of a clean and green future based on water power providing clean, efficient electricity to provide all the human needs now provided by the fossil predators and their supporters.

Be of good cheer! The realization of our vision is not impossible and can be achieved within the next thirty to fifty years – BUT we must get started now!

Now We’re 102!!

Not many business continuums can say that. And being able to say that means that a lot of our contributions have been recognized as meaningful and forward thinking.

Of course we do get a lot of friendly joshing about our age too. “Aren’t you getting tired?

“Do you remember gaslight?” Well, in addition to being the major energy utility at the beginning of the 20th century, it also turned out to be a marvelous motion picture starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.

We’ve told our story before but it’s worth retelling – especially at anniversary times.

Our founder, Frank Edward Lorson was a young man in 1908 working for the president of the innovative Edison Company in New York City. A lot was going on in the growing metropolis - most important, to us, was the recognition that electricity was going to be the preferred energy for use in industry and homes. The supply and delivery of natural gas had grown to public utility status and had become the standard for the lighting and heating of homes and businesses.

In 1882, Thomas Edison’s Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York started service to 59 customers in a square-mile area in lower Manhattan. At that time most buildings, both commercial and residential generated their own power by burning coal or oil. This was the beginning of the end for gas for lighting the city.

Edison found that while most multi-tenanted office and residential buildings in NYC that had electricity made the power in their own with generating plants. He developed a way to induce the owners to buy their power from him – meter each tenant’s usage, master meter the entire building power, provide separate tenant bills for Landlord to collect and bill the Owner for the total building usage at a bulk (reduced) rate. The profit for the buildings was too good to be ignored. And it wasn’t.

All this was well and good and Edison’s load was building steadily. But the newly formed Public Service Commission found that while selling wholesale to Owners for resale was approvable, the Owners, not the utility, should service the tenant meters and so the business that came to be known as Submetering began in NYC.

And in 1908 Frank Lorson was the first to organize a company devoted to providing the meter reading and billing services for Owners. That firm, New York Supply & Inspection Co., Inc is still in business in New York.

There have been a number of “spin-off” companies from the original. Those are in the construction, maintenance and utility management fields. And our endeavor, Lorson Energy LLC continues the traditional pursuit of excellence in the field of energy conservation, controls and ecological care

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thanks for Nothing!

Where have we heard that before? Usually not in a good way. ” Nothing” can have negative and positive meanings and it’s the positive ones we’re after here today.

But “nothingness” raises a whole host of concepts applying to everything from philosophy to energy and – believe it or not – they’re all related. Really. And what’s more they can be totally confusing.

So it’s best if we stay away from the philosophical argument that “proves” “The existence of any thing cannot have come from nothing or no thing nor could it have ever existed at all.” Had enough?

This field will lead you anywhere from Einstein (E=MC2) to the big bang theory and all we are really reaching for is a lot less usage of those forms of energy that continue to pollute our air, water and ecology.

So in our roundabout way we are saying to you “thanks for not using that energy.”

For not turning it on when not necessary;

For not investing in Coal and Oil corporations;

For not encouraging the promoters of mining more coal and drilling for more oil;

For not raising the thermostat when not really necessary

For not leaving the car idling when parked

For not putting recyclable items in the trash

For not using high wattage lamps

For not leaving the oven or stove on after cooking is done

For not letting water leaks or drips to continue

And in return we thank you for the things you do

Such as helping our children to understand the need for careful use of energy;

And supporting all the organizations and individuals who are dedicated to the careful and considerate use of energy in all areas of life.

Because, you will find that our children and their children will thank us all for our efforts to provide a cleaner and safer world for them in the future.