Felix Salmon

Nuclear power: Going fast

June 23, 2009

I was offline most of yesterday attending a high-intensity series of presentations hosted by Esquire magazine in the magnificent suite of rooms at the top of the new Hearst tower. GE’s Eric Loewen was there, talking about nuclear power, and specifically what he calls a PRISM reactor — a fourth-generation nuclear power station which runs on the nuclear waste generated by all the previous generations of nuclear power stations.

How transit investments pay for themselves

June 22, 2009

Kaid Benfield has a great wonky post on the connection between carbon emission reductions and land-use regulations. It turns out that the latter can have an enormous effect on the former: in a number of cities and states, the cost of implementing things like transit-oriented development and growth boundaries can actually be negative, thanks to the resulting reduction in vehicle miles driven. (And that’s not even including the fact that household carbon emissions, as opposed to vehicle emissions, are much lower in high-density developments.)

Cap-and-trade datapoint of the day

June 22, 2009

I am very happy that the CBO has finally gotten around to costing out Waxman-Markey, so that we don’t have to put up with pseudoscientific scaremongering any more.

The inverse-floater gasoline tax

June 15, 2009

How to structure a gas tax? You could make it a flat X cents per gallon; alternatively (and this is essentially what a cap-and-trade system does, too) you could make it Y%, with the tax increasing with the price of gasoline.

Whither cap-and-trade? An IM exchange

June 12, 2009

One of the great things about working for Reuters is that I get to pester journalists who actually know what they’re talking about. So after reading Timothy Gardner’s story on the cap-and-trade bill today, I got him on IM, and learned a lot — not least that Waxman-Markey is being considered more of an all-encompassing energy bill, as opposed to simply a way of creating a cap-and-trade scheme. Which on the one hand means that it can be loaded up with enough pork to make it pass, but on the other hand makes everything much more complicated:

The fiscal cost of Waxman-Markey

June 8, 2009

Couldn’t they have left themselves any leeway at all? The CBO has now costed out the Waxman-Markey act, and has come to the conclusion that over the 10 years from 2010 to 2019, it would raise $846 billion, spend $821 billion, and cost another $50 billion or so in discretionary spending. In other words, it’s at best fiscally flat, and quite possibly will actually cost the government money.

A closer look at the Waxman-Markey allocations

May 26, 2009

John Kemp has a very handy summary of exactly how emissions allowances are going to be allocated under the Waxman bill. And it turns out that while only 15% of the allowances are certainly going to be auctioned — at least in the first instance — another 14% or so are going to go towards pushing clean-energy objectives. As Kemp notes, this is

The reality of Google PowerMeter

May 22, 2009


Kevin Drum is getting a bit ahead of himself, I fear, in his embrace of Google PowerMeter. He reproduces this chart, and says that the

Smart power meters start to arrive

May 20, 2009

Google PowerMeter announced its first partnerships today, with energy companies from Kentucky to Canada participating in the program. I spoke to Hal Snyder, who works for one of them, San Diego Gas & Electric, which has recently started installing what it calls “smart meters” in 1.4 million homes in southern California. It’s up to 10,000 now, hopes to get more than 200,000 by the end of the year, and have everybody installed by 2011.