Earth Techling reports on the release of the latest report in the U.S. Department of Interior’s efforts to identify opportunities to develop small-scale hydropower projects within the DOI’s current water delivery systems in the Western United States. The goal of DOI’s project was to inventory potentially valuable locations and then invite developers to consider investing in projects. The most recent report indicates an annual potential for as much as 1.5 million MWh of energy to be generated.
Details from the Earth Techling summary:
These are all micro hydro sites, ranging in potential capacity from 125 kW to about 26 MW installed capacity. Fish would not be endangered because they are largely municipal water conduits.
The total clean energy produced would be equivalent to replacing one 260 -300 MW coal power station.
Since the hydropower projects probably would generate less power than the waterway itself uses, it might be more economical to consume the power ‘behind the meter’ rather than producing power for sale elsewhere. Possibly, however, the locations where the waterway uses power and the locations with good hydropower potential are distant from each other, so then sale off system could be more economic.
The DOI’s webpage for the project has several reports.
(The Earth Techling post ends with an odd political slam at Republicans, seemingly wistful for the good ol’ days of grand projects like the Hoover Dam. Apparently the inability to ram project’s down a region’s throat from the halls of government can be a bit constraining to people with big dreams.)
Five minutes of Matt Zwolinski on price gouging (from Learn Liberty).
If you think price gouging should be against the law, watch this video. Are you persuaded by Zwolinski? Let me know in the comments.
MORE: Zwolinski has written serious philosophical works on price gouging,which makes the clarity of his position in the video all the more surprising. See links to some of Zwolinski’s work on the topic in previous KP discussions here and here.
In March I wrote about Adam Thierer’s paper on technopanics — “a moral panic centered on societal fears about a particular contemporary technology” — and I argued that we should bear the moral panic phenomenon in mind when evaluating objections to smart grid technologies. In the past two weeks we’ve seen news articles on this topic: according to the FBI, smart meter cybersecurity is loose enough that hackers have been able to hack into smart meters and steal electricity.
Chris King from eMeter has done some digging into this question, and writes at Earth2Tech suggesting that the problem is old-fashioned criminal human behavior, not any technology-specific security failure:
Upon a closer look, this situation is not so much about smart meters as it is about criminal human behavior. Former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs explained that it was not actually the smart meters themselves which were “hacked.” The meters’ own security measures were not breached.
Instead, criminals accessed the smart meters by stealing meter passwords as well as some devices used to program the meters. This is more like stealing a key and opening a door, rather than breaking the lock on the door.
These criminals were former employees of the utility involved, and of the vendor who provided the smart meters. These people were paid (bribed) by customers to illegally reprogram the meters so that those meters would record less energy consumption than actually occurred. This is not fundamentally different from bribing human meter readers to under report consumption — which happens often in some developing countries.
Which brings us back to Adam’s original point: why are we so willing to accept the technopanic argument? Why are so many people so suspicious of new technology, and so willing to give up both the consequentialist potential benefits and the moral defense of individual liberty and impose controls and limits on technology?