Tag Archives: Iowa

Drinking Local in 2019

One of my 2019 “resolutions” was to drink local.  Now, I already spend most of my beer dollars on local beer but I thought it would be instructive if I really went out of my way to drink local and record the results.

Here is how things shaped up for the first three months of 2019:

First Quarter 2019 Beer List.png

Big Grove Brewery, ReUnion Brewery, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, SingleSpeed Brewing, and Exile Brewing are all breweries from Iowa.  The six pack of Denver Beer Company Incredible Pedal was purchased in Colorado, so I am going to count that as local.  Therefore, the only non-local beer that I purchased for home consumption in the first quarter of the year were two six packs from New Belgium and Lagunitas.

Away from home things look a little different.  Most of the beers I consumed were either purchased at the brewery taproom (Barn Town Brewing, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, Big Grove Brewery) or close to the brewery (SingleSpeed Brewing, Clock House Brewing, Green Tree Brewery, Outer Range Brewing, Bonfire Brewing).

I did end up drinking some Lagunitas IPA at an event in Davenport.  This was the most “craft” option available and it goes to show how far beer has come in the last decade.  When you are somewhat disappointed that Lagunitas IPA is the best option you know things are pretty good right now in the state of beer consumption.

The only other non-local beers that I consumed away from home were a Surly Liquid Stardust that I was eager to try when it became available on draft at a local establishment and Roadhouse Brewing Mountain Jam that was recommended to me by a server in a Colorado stop.

Looking back I would say that my efforts were solid.  Only Lagunitas, owned by Heineken, would not be considered a craft brewer under the guidelines set forth by the Brewer’s Association.

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Spring has Sprung: March 2019 Solar Production and EV Stats

Can you tell the exact time when the snow finally melted in Iowa and it began to feel like spring?  I will give you one guess looking at the image below:

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It was like someone opened a door and spring rushed in looking for treats like a good boy.  I said it last year and I will say it again this year…I need to get a roof rake so that I can brush the snow off when it refuses to slide off my solar panels.  The way these things go it will probably be a very light snow year next season and the roof rake will sit in the garage unused for months.

It is my hope that April sees a production number on par with the prior year as the previous few months have really been mediocre in terms of solar production.  There is something ironic about getting an electric vehicle at the same time that my solar production fell off a cliff.  Oh well.

Speaking of the Nissan Leaf it also had a month when it became obvious that the weather had turned.  I drove 603.4 miles at an average efficiency of 5.0 miles per kWh.  This compares with average efficiencies of 3.6 and 3.9 miles per kWh in January and February respectively.

Two factors played into this efficiency increase: warmer weather that resulted in less use of the resistive heater and better knowledge of how to wring out mileage from the vehicle.  It is kind of amazing how you can optimize your driving along a route without resorting to any crazy hypermiling or vehicle modification. This is the kind of improvement that makes me wonder how much efficiency we can wring out of the transportation system without having to resort to draconian measures.

Over the course of the past two and a half months I have driven a total of 1583.6 miles in my Nissan Leaf.  That has saved 1731.9 pound of CO2 versus my prior vehicle and cost a total of $49.34.  The emissions and cost numbers are based on me using grid electricity for the entirety.

As an aside, I utilized a public charger for the first time this month.  In practical terms it was super easy.  I pulled up to one of the two spots at my place of work, tapped my Chargepoint RFID keycard, and got to charging.  There has been a lot of talk about infrastructure for charging and how it impacts the widespread adoption of EVs.  In my experience, the publicly available charging infrastructure is not the major hurdle to adoption for a lot of people.  Unlike urban areas, the suburban area that I live in is rife with attached garages where people can charge their vehicle at home overnight.  Within line of sight of my garage are two houses with Tesla Model 3s and in conversations with the owners I have found that they also rarely, if ever, utilize public chargers, including Tesla’s vaunted Supercharger.  It is just not necessary for the majority of driving that takes place in an average day.  Heck, I only used the charger at work to ensure that my Chargepoint card worked so that I could take my Leaf down to Iowa City in the summer.

Solar Photovoltaic and Electric Vehicle Report February 2019

Something happens when you get hit with a polar vortex, twice as much snow as normal in February, and several ice storms depositing a nice frozen layer over everything.  That something is that your solar array’s production stinks:

Feb 2019 solart

I thought January 2019 was bad, but it looks like February 2019 is a bad month for solar photovoltaic production as well.

Having a roof rake might have helped some, but the quantities of snow and ice were pretty extreme at times this month.  I am just hoping that March is a little warmer—no chance of that over the course of the next week—and things will clear up the natural way.

On the other hand, I have moved up the learning curve with regards to operating my Nissan Leaf.  This month I drive a total of 627.7 miles in the EV at an average efficiency of 3.9 miles per kWh.  This is an improvement of 0.2 miles per kWh over the driving that I did in January.

This month’s mileage, comparing it to the environmental impact of my Ford F-150, prevented the emission of 676 pounds of carbon dioxide.  In less than 1,000 miles of driving I have prevented the emission of over 1,048 pounds of carbon dioxide.  I have also saved over $97 in fuel costs compared with my prior vehicle.

I have decided to combine the monthly reporting of these two aspects of decarbonizing my household because they are intimately related.  What electricity produced by my solar array that is not consumed by my household needs is funneled to my electric vehicle.  As it stands today my array will not produce enough electricity on an annual basis to satisfy both my household’s needs and my electric vehicle’s needs.  To remedy that situation I have an estimated in hand for adding a little more than 50% to my array’s capacity to produce enough electricity to satisfy more than 12,000 miles per year of driving.

The timeframe for adding solar has not been decided and it may not happen this year.  Paying cash for my Nissan Leaf was a fairly major expense just a week into the new year, so that has to be considered.  However, with tax credits set to decline or expire depending upon the political whims of Republicans in my state I may jump on the project sooner rather than later.

Friday Linkage 2/15/2019

It’s not a polar vortex in February, but for some reason I would take the cold temperatures over what we have had the past two weeks.  How does an inch or so of ice that gets topped off with nearly a foot of snow and capped with a little wintry mix?  Add in the drifting from 40 mile per hour winds and temperatures that swing thirty degrees in a twenty four hour period.  That is what February has been like so far in eastern Iowa.

Now you know why I am dreaming of spring.

On to the links…

Uniquely American’: Senate Passes Landmark Bill to Enlarge National Parks—Good things can happen.  This is an unalloyed win for advocates of public lands.  Granted, it still requires a signature from individual number 1 but I have to imagine that even he is inclined to go with the flow on this.

What’s Missing from the Green New Deal—I think that the most important thing is that we are having a conversation about the Green New Deal.  Could you imagine this happening just two years ago following Trump’s “victory” and the ascension of a completely Republican controlled Washington D.C.?  Nope.

Priorities: Where Do You Start with the Green New Deal?—If it were me, I would start with a nationwide reforestation effort focused on degraded lands.  It could be lands impacted by mining in Appalachia, beetle kill in Colorado, and wildfire in California.

Is Renewables’ Production Tax Credit Bullet Proof?—I have to imagine that in this political climate the production tax credit for renewables is going to get renewed past 2020.  Some red state Republicans support the PTC and Democrats are in favor, so the odds are favorable.

Trump Administration will try to Exempt Specialty Bulbs from Energy Efficiency Standards—Of course the Trump administration will try to roll back new energy efficiency standards.  Try is the operative word.  BTW, can we just kill the Edison bulb trend?

USDA says Filler once Known as ‘Pink Slime’ can be Labeled Ground Beef—Of course the USDA would allow pink slime to be labelled as ground beef.  It is like we live in a dystopia where the president feeds visitors to the White House fast food…oh shit, we do live in Idiocracy now.  Damn.

China is polluting California’s air—Pollution is both local and global.  The air may be horrible in China and India, but those same pollutants will impact other countries.  Even countries an ocean away.  Just because we have outsourced our pollution does not mean that we have avoided our pollution.

Coal Developers Take Note: Climate Change Killed This Coal Mine—Climate change is real and people are really starting to take notice.  If a judge uses this as a reason to stop coal development we may have finally turned a corner.

War on Plastics May Stunt Oil Demand Growth Projections—Take a look at the chart:

Plastic Pie Chart.jpg

Thirty six percent of the demand for plastic is for packaging.  Buy less stuff to save money and reduce the demand for disposable plastic.

Another Way To Power Electric Cars: “Refillable Technology”—Flow batteries and related technologies, which this particular article deals with, seem like a great way to get around the problem of quickly charging EVs.  I wonder if there is a way to get the best of both worlds.  Make an EV that you charge at home most days, but have the option of refilling with charged electrolyte when on a trip far from home.

How EV HVAC Use Impacts Range Much More Than Extreme Temps—If there is a negative article about EVs you can bet the press is going to pounce.  Here is the thing, even with reduced range an EV will handle your daily commute.  Why is this even a story anymore?  And another thing, where were the articles about traditional ICE cars not being able to start in the polar vortex?

California to Transition to 100 Percent Electric Buses by 2040—Why can’t we make this a goal for 2030?  If transitioning 12,000 busses is the equivalent of 4 million cars we should be all over this effort.

Bottle Recycling in Oregon Hits 90 Percent Record High—I live in a state with a bottle deposit law and it works.  I imagine that if we adopted a nationwide ten cents per bottle deposit law that recycling rates for cans and bottles would increase accordingly.

How Big-Box Stores Bilk Local Governments—Here is why our governments—local, state, and federal—do not have the money to implement programs people care about: businesses have manipulated the tax code with loopholes to avoid paying any tax.

Solar Jobs Climb in Iowa—Most of the news around solar in the U.S. has been a downer lately as the Trump tariffs have bitten the industry.  However, Iowa solar jobs were up which is a good thing.

January 2019 Solar got Whacked by Snow and a Polar Vortex

Winter returned to eastern Iowa in a big way in January.  Want to guess when it got all wintry up in this house?  Check out the chart and tell me:

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Yep, you can see when the nearly foot of snow covered my solar panels.  Normally the snow will slide off with a few warmer days.  Heck, even when it is still pretty cold the sun can make enough of a difference to clear the panels.

However, when the polar vortex comes along with some new snow the panels on top of my garage remain covered.  Things should warm up this weekend—it might be sixty five degrees warmer this weekend versus Wednesday—and the snow should clear.

Just over 68 kWh of solar electricity for a month is the lowest production number in my system’s brief history.  It is also less than half the production from the same month last year.  It goes to show that I might need to invest in one of those soft rubber roof rakes to clear my panels in times of inclement weather.  Especially if I am going to expand my system by more than 50% to account for the electricity use of my Nissan Leaf.

More to come on the solar expansion very soon.  I promise.

Friday Linkage 1/18/2019

This our hellish reality:

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Yes, Donald Trump presided over a cold fast food “feast” for the visiting Clemson Tigers football team that recently won the supposed national championship.  Imagine, for just a moment, the blood vessels that Sean Hannity would have blown had President Obama deigned to have a table full of fast food available for a visiting sports team.  Just imagine the outrage.  Just imagine…

At least Chicago’s Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, is stepping up to show the Clemson Tigers what a real celebration should look like.

I have always wanted a “hamberder:”

hamberders.jpg

We cannot make this stuff up anymore.  The best response that I saw to all of this was someone saying that these pictures look like the scene where a time traveler realizes that she has messed things up royally.

On to the links…

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?—The worst case scenario is what we are trying to avoid.  The question is by how much do we miss global catastrophe?

How Much can Forests Fight Climate Change?—The benefits of forests may be oversold by some, but what harm is there in trying to save the forests that we have and reforest the land that we have logged?

A Coal Baron’s Takeover of the EPA Is Nearly Complete—Robert Murray is the dime store villain of climate change.  He grabbed on to Donald Trump harder than anyone not named Vladimir Putin and made him his Manchurian candidate for coal.  It is the duty of Congress to see that America does not become a coal fired hellscape.

How Trump’s EPA is Letting Environmental Criminals Off the Hook, in One Chart—This is what “law and order” looks like under a lawless administration:

epa_enforcement_lowf2

Indiana Utility to Quit Coal and Cut CO2 90% within 10 Years—Even with Trump in office and the EPA doing everything it can to unwind regulations coal is in a death spiral.  This news comes from Indiana which gave us Mike Pence and “Mother.”

Fracked Shale Oil Wells Drying Up Faster than Predicted—This is a problem for oil and natural gas companies because their “proven reserves” are based on decline curves that may be too optimistic.

Air Travel is Surging. That’s a Huge Problem for the Climate.—Air travel is bad for the climate.  Period.

The Mortgage Industry isn’t Ready for a Foreclosure Crisis Created by Climate Change—Why do I have a feeling that Florida is going to be “ground zero” for the first foreclosure crisis caused by climate change?  I just envision empty and destroyed condos in Miami.

Iowa ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Banning Undercover Farm Investigations Ruled Unconstitutional—I am certain that this is not the last that we have heard on this issue, but it is a good sign that corporations will not be able to silence individuals.  Since the 1980s business has ruled and gotten every advantage possible codified by a compliant government.  I am hopeful that the pendulum is swinging back in favor of the rights of the individual.

Coming To America In 2019 — Compliance Cars Only—I do not know if the headline is quite true, but it does seem like the United States is an afterthought when it comes to electric vehicles save for Tesla.  Now, we are the land of big ass trucks with little purpose for being—this comes from the owner of a recently long term garaged Ford F-150—where EVs are seen as a “hippie thing”—this comes from someone who bought a used Nissan Leaf.

The Surprising Impact of Paper Receipts—This is one of those things that just surprises me.

The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End—We cannot just think that dumping our trash—which is what a lot of single stream recycling ends up becoming—into a blue bin magically makes it environmentally friendly.  This trash could have value, but Western civilization—to use Steve King’s vernacular—is too lazy to do a better job of sorting things.

What to Do With All Your Stuff That Doesn’t ‘Spark Joy’—It is not just about getting rid of your stuff, but getting rid of your stuff in a way that can allow others to benefit.

Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk—Dude, the United States produce way too much milk:

Screenshot_2019-01-17 Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk.png

Why do we produce so much milk if we are not drinking so much milk?

We Could End Factory Farming this Century—We can only hope.

No More War, Pestilence, & Poverty: How Renewable Energy Will Alter The Global Geopolitical Calculus—This is one of those hopeful ideas that you just hope come to pass.  Imagine a world where we stop fighting over resources.  Wow!

November was the Lowest Solar Production Ever

This past November was the weakest month ever for my solar system’s electricity production:

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Just 144.4 kWh.  That’s it…144.4 kWh…I feel like Bob Uecker’s character in Major League discussing the woeful Cleveland Indians’ game stats.

The silver lining, so to speak, is that we did not use very much electricity in November.  All in, the household ended the month about 60 kWh in the red.

December, January, and February are likely to be pitiful months for solar production based on the prior year’s production history.  However, an upgrade is on the horizon.

An upgrade just over a year into ownership?  Yes, my friends I am looking to add solar capacity in anticipation of acquiring an electric car.  No Tesla for me.  I have a line on a used Nissan Leaf for a good price that will serve as my daily drive.  According to my calculations, based on observed system performance, an addition 8 290 watt panels or a 50% increase in system size should cover more than 100% of my in town driving for the year.

Actually, it will cover more than 100% but I want to build in some buffer for months like November.  Stay tuned…