Category Archives: Earth Day

Living The Leaf Life, Update

In honor of Earth Day I thought I’d update folks on my Nissan Leaf experience. Short answer: yes I still love my car. No, I haven’t had any issues — not with range, nor with anything else.

The one question everyone always asks when I’m out and about is, “what kind of gas mileage do you get?” To which I always answer, “Zero.” Ha ha. People are still wrapping their heads around the idea of a non-internal combustion engine. And I get that; it’s a big change. The concept of a car without a tailpipe — which doesn’t require regular oil changes! — is a big effin’ deal, to paraphrase Joe Biden. You know what else the Leaf doesn’t do? Get hot. You come in from a long drive and the hood is pretty much cool to the touch.

The Leaf’s Carwings software tells me I average 7 miles per kWh. Based on that, we calculate I get the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon. That’s factoring in what NES charges for electricity on a $3.65/gallon gas price: since we have a solar array on our roof and are actually selling our power several months out of the year, it doesn’t quite work out that way for us. But you get the general idea.

And no, we haven’t seen any uptick in our electric bill; in fact, as I’ve mentioned before, because of home energy efficiency work we did last year like insulation and ductwork sealing, we’re actually using less electricity than last year, when we didn’t have an EV.

All of this has to be presented with a big caveat: I don’t drive a lot, mostly just in-town stuff. So, “your mileage may vary.”

Last week I saw this story in a local paper about the number of public charging stations which go unused. We see these stories a lot these days, and they annoy the hell out of me. Fer crying out loud, people: the Leaf has only been available in this state for, what, a year? Jesus. Give it a rest. This stuff takes time. Quit yer whining.

You know, I’m always hearing people say, “there’s an EV charger at such-and-such place and .. I never see anyone using it!” My response? So what! How many times do you see empty handicapped parking spaces? Or how about those parking spaces retailers reserve for expectant mothers? I see them at shopping malls and grocery stores all the time, and they’re always empty. No one bitches about those, do they?

These are things that retailers do to serve their customers (except for handicapped parking, which is required by law). If you’re going to be all “free hand of the market” about this stuff, then let a business owner do what they think serves their clientele. Don’t get your shorts in a knot because you think you know better. I’ve got a steaming cup of STFU with your name on it.

I mostly charge my car at home. Sometimes I charge when I’m out and about, but because I live in town, these public charging stations are not for me. They’re for Leaf owners I know who live out in Williamson County and come into town to do their business. These public chargers will be used as the number of EV owners increases.

And let me add, I’d use the ones down in Brentwood and Williamson County if I knew they were there. There really needs to be a better way of letting people know where these things are: some kind of standardized signage or something. Carwings is supposed to tell you where chargers are located but half the time they don’t show up on your console screen until you actually use one.

So far, the Leaf life is working out really well. Last time I crunched the numbers I calculated I spent $8 a month on transportation, versus the $100 or so I’d spend previously. The economics work, but also: it’s just a great little car.


Filed under Earth Day, electric car, energy future, environment

>A Final Earth Day Message

>I loved this …

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Filed under Earth Day

All Your Energy Are Belong To Us

Suck it, Yankees! Watch this, you stolid Midwesterners and effete West Coast elites! We Southerners are hongry and we will be satisfied:

Thirty-six percent of Americans live in the study region, which consumes an outsized portion—44 percent—of American energy. The area supplies 48 percent of the nation’s power.

Got that, y’all? In a recent study it was discovered that the “South,” a 17 state region which included Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and the District of Columbia, contains 36% of the country’s population but consumes 44% of American energy. Because the South produces 48% of the nation’s power it looks like we are a little greedy with the rest of the nation. Even worse, energy consumption in the South is expected to increase by 15% over the next 20 years.

But even worse from an energy consumption standpoint is our own State of Tennessee:

With a population of 6.3 million people, the State represents about 2.1% of the U.S. population, 1.8% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 2.3% of U.S. energy consumption (Figure 1). 3 Thus, compared to the rest of the nation, Tennessee has a higher-than-average level of energy intensity (that is, it consumes more energy per dollar of economic activity than most other states).

Unlike most states in the South that account for a disproportionately large amount of the nation’s industrial energy use, industry accounts for only 32% of Tennessee’s overall energy consumption. In contrast, its residential energy consumption as a percentage of its overall energy use exceeds that of the South and that of the nation (Figure 2).

Of course we do! Again, don’t blame us, blame the cheap energy we got courtesy of TVA. Houses were built leaky as sieves back during the post-WWII housing boom; no one bothered with something as silly as conservation back then, and why should they? Today those 1940s houses are charming but they’re also energy hogs (I live in one, trust me, I know.)

Although Tennessee has several important energy efficiency policies in place, we still lag far, far behind other states–indeed, we rank 38th for the adoption of energy efficiency policies, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The reason this is important is not because saving electricity is a nice thing to do and we can all pat ourselves on the back and feel virtuous and self righteous. The reason it’s important is because, I repeat, we rank 38th out of 50 states and D.C. which means most of the rest of the county is leaving us behind. If we want to lure jobs and have nice communities and maintain a nice standard of living in this state then we need to be competitive, or the next Hemlock Semiconductor or Volkswagon will decide to locate its plant somewhere else. Someplace which has energy incentives in place, where cost of living doesn’t reflect high energy costs, and where workers can actually take a weekend fishing some place where the streams aren’t polluted with surface mining tailings.

Folks, the era of cheap energy is over. We now live in a world where demand is such that we are going to greater and greater lengths to generate the juice we need. At the same time we are living with a legacy of energy inefficiency and wastefulness from past decades. It’s all going to catch up to us in the next 20 years, unless we take action.

It’s time to get on board. As we become more energy efficient we can create jobs, boost the state’s economy, and protect our environment. None of that is going to happen if we keep sticking our head in the sand and acting like it’s 1965.

(h/t mistermix at Balloon Juice)


Filed under Earth Day, energy conservation, Tennessee

>Oil Rig Explodes Off Louisiana Coast


Happy Earth Day

A TransOcean oil rig under contract to BP exploded off the Louisiana coast last night. And the timing of this tragedy, so close on the heels of the Massey coal mine disaster, should be lost on no one.

Prayers to the families of the missing workers. And a reminder that oil and coal are a dirty, nasty, risky business. Think about that next time you fill up the SUV.

Hey Bill Frist: remind me, how many people were killed by wind power again?


Filed under Earth Day, energy production

>An Earth Day Parable

>This is a story about ME. I’ve come down with a fever. I’m hot all the time. I can’t breathe. I break out in a sweat, and I have no energy. I’m so uncomfortable. It’s so hot. Nothing makes my fever go away, not aspirin, not ice-cold baths, nothing.

So I went to a doctor. The doctor says I have cancer. So I got a second opinion. And a third. They all said I have cancer.

I went to 20 doctors. Thirty doctors. Fifty doctors. They all said the same thing: cancer.

Finally, after seeing over 80 doctors, I found one who said it’s not cancer. Dr. X says it’s normal and if I wait, it will go away eventually.

What a relief! So now I’m going to listen to Dr. X and ignore the 80+ other doctors who said I have cancer. I’m not going to get any medical treatment at all; instead, I will just wait for my fever to go away.

Question: am I the stupidest person on the planet or what?

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Filed under Earth Day, environment