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Anyone altering their driving habits due to outrageous gas prices?

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Old 05-20-2007, 03:00 PM   #121  
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Default Nuclear is the way to go, but it will not be easy

unotis,

I believe that nuclear is the way to go, but by the time the environmental studies are done and the lawsuits trying to block the plants are settled, it will probably take a longer time than 2-3 years for approval. How long does it take to actually build the plant once that is done? I am not saying we shouldn't move down that road, but it will be tough to get any plants approved and it will not help us in the short run.

What are some other options available to us that can be put in place in the short run? How about tax credits for installing rooftop solar panels that would tie into the power grid. These would add electricity at peak time (air conditioning in offices during daylight hours).

How about the power companies sending out (or subcontracting out) crews with thermal cameras in the winter. Find the houses leaking heat and work with the owners to resolve the problem.

How about a stiff registration fee for low mileage vehicles and credits for those driving ultra high mileage autos. Drive a hummer? Pay $3,000 when you renew your tags. Drive a 60 MPG hybrid car? Your tags are free + collect $500 at registration for doing your part (courtesy of the guy that insists on driving the hummer).

How about "flexible" mass transit. I have to drive 2 miles to Walmart, the closest point for catching the bus, and it costs me more in bus fare (at current gas prices) to go the remining 8 miles to work than if I drove the car. Add some buses that have some flexibility in their routes. If I sign up to ride every work day, send one down the feeder street in my neighborhood (one block away) and my car will stay in the garage. It will not be long before others in my neighborhood start riding as well.

Encourage businesses to allow "flex time". I am at the office at 7 AM and leave at 4 PM, unless we are running overtime and can do 70 MPH both ways. A lot more efficient than crawling along at 25 MPH during rush hour. Works the same for the 9 AM to 6 PM flex folks (more of them than the early birds like me).

Set up a bicycle / mo-ped / scooter / motorcycle route through the city. Cars only for local traffic. A 200 MPG mo-ped might work here where I don't have to worry about getting squashed by a SUV.

Most of what I do at the office could be done from my home PC. What about encouraging companies to wire up home computers and let employees work one day (or more if it works) from home. Eliminate the commute alltogether.

We need to start the ball rolling on nuclear (if we can find politicians courageous enough to even propose this), but there is a lot we can do to impact energy in the meantime.
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Old 05-20-2007, 04:00 PM   #122  
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Solar and wind are a couple of technologies that have not had the sunlight shined on them enough. Solar makes some economic sense, especially in areas where it is expensive/hard/impossible to run a power line. Examples are the school flashers, remote areas and space. But solar is not a good trade off for petroleum generated energy. There was a study a few years ago that concluded that solar energy was a net negative to the planet in that it took more non-renewable energy to produce the equipment than it would save in the equipment's lifetime. This included the production of the equipment, delivery and installation - all of the energy consumed to install and keep in operation. The exception to this was the solar water heaters, since no electrical components are involved. Now today with advancements in battery technology and efficiencies of photo equipment it may have turned the corner, but it is almost impossible to get a solid report of the current status.

Wind on the other hand does not make economic sense in most areas of the planet where wind is in enough steady supply to power a farm. Coastal areas have the corrosive issues and desert areas have the dusty environments. This causes enormous maintenance costs that are never accounted for when building the farms. They have three wind farms on the big island of Hawaii, where incidentally just about every alternative energy scheme has been tried due to the National Energy Lab being located there. The first farm down at the South Point area is just about shutdown, if not completely shutdown. The last time I was there in 2006 there was not even one turbine running. They were building a new one up in the northern tip of the island near Hawi and should be in operation by now. The third one is in the Waimea area. The problem is after they are built there is not enough income to keep them in repair, so after using tax money to build them (or help) under the guise of research, when they fall into disrepair they are just shutdown. Here I agree with the people in Mass. that don't want the offshore farm.

Rather than sink a lot of money into solar and wind, I feel like other alternative energy sources are a much better bet.

For more information on the Hawaii National Energy Lab see: http://www.nelha.org/
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Old 05-20-2007, 05:00 PM   #123  
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unotis,

I believe that nuclear is the way to go, but by the time the environmental studies are done and the lawsuits trying to block the plants are settled, it will probably take a longer time than 2-3 years for approval. How long does it take to actually build the plant once that is done? I am not saying we shouldn't move down that road, but it will be tough to get any plants approved and it will not help us in the short run.

What are some other options available to us that can be put in place in the short run? How about tax credits for installing rooftop solar panels that would tie into the power grid. These would add electricity at peak time (air conditioning in offices during daylight hours).

How about the power companies sending out (or subcontracting out) crews with thermal cameras in the winter. Find the houses leaking heat and work with the owners to resolve the problem.

How about a stiff registration fee for low mileage vehicles and credits for those driving ultra high mileage autos. Drive a hummer? Pay $3,000 when you renew your tags. Drive a 60 MPG hybrid car? Your tags are free + collect $500 at registration for doing your part (courtesy of the guy that insists on driving the hummer).

How about "flexible" mass transit. I have to drive 2 miles to Walmart, the closest point for catching the bus, and it costs me more in bus fare (at current gas prices) to go the remining 8 miles to work than if I drove the car. Add some buses that have some flexibility in their routes. If I sign up to ride every work day, send one down the feeder street in my neighborhood (one block away) and my car will stay in the garage. It will not be long before others in my neighborhood start riding as well.

Encourage businesses to allow "flex time". I am at the office at 7 AM and leave at 4 PM, unless we are running overtime and can do 70 MPH both ways. A lot more efficient than crawling along at 25 MPH during rush hour. Works the same for the 9 AM to 6 PM flex folks (more of them than the early birds like me).

Set up a bicycle / mo-ped / scooter / motorcycle route through the city. Cars only for local traffic. A 200 MPG mo-ped might work here where I don't have to worry about getting squashed by a SUV.

Most of what I do at the office could be done from my home PC. What about encouraging companies to wire up home computers and let employees work one day (or more if it works) from home. Eliminate the commute alltogether.

We need to start the ball rolling on nuclear (if we can find politicians courageous enough to even propose this), but there is a lot we can do to impact energy in the meantime.
All good points and I agree with them.

The amount of time to actually build a new technology nuclear power plant is fairly short and inexpensive compared to the original designs, it can be built in a year or less.

Education needs to come first, with the proper eduction of the public to the safety and advantages of new nuclear technology shoud circumvent many of thos lawsuits or at least shorten their length because they will have no basis for winning.

And I agree we need courageous lawmakers to step up and lead the fight and I think if the public is educated to the benefits and the lawmakers realize they might just benefit by fighting a fight they should win and look like statesmen not just politicians in doing it, they might just find that courage.

And I really like the adjusted fees for driving fuel efficent cars over gas hogs (if they love their gas guzzling SUV so much let them pay for that priviledge).

And we definately could benefit from a new usable mass transit system like they have in Europe (where you really don't need a car to live and work). Good ideas!

Our biggest trouble is that it has to get really bad before people will wake up and realize they need to accept changes, like extremely high fuel costs and extreme pollution problems leading to our lives getting markedly worse.
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Old 05-20-2007, 06:01 PM   #124  
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Some of those proposals I believe are economically reckless in the short term, although a gradual adoption over the long term could ease that. SUV's are still big profit makers for the auto industry(for all the brands). The problem with that kind of approach is that they would unfairly penalize people who really need a utility vehicle for their lifestyle, or for their job or buisness. You can't haul much more than passengers in a Ford Escape Hybrid, and you can't tow a boat with a Honda CRV. Putting that kind of tax on utility vehicles would KILL our economy. It would not just penalize all manufacturers of the auto industry, but it would have a very nasty fallout effect that would destroy many manufacturers that build recreational vehicles and boats. Since this is a sector that is heavily American, the fallout would be even worse at a time when we are already losing many American firms who are unable to compete in a changing market. The automanufacturers can adapt over a long term, but these firms I just mentioned above would have no choice but possibly exit the industry. Who's gonna buy a boat when people can't afford the SUV or pickup truck to tow it with? What about buisnesses that require utility vehicles? Even something as simply as taking my lawn mower to the local John Deere shop for yearly maintenence would be a big hassle if not for utilty vehicles or trucks.

What about people with big families who need a big vehicle? Now we are talking about certain groups of people who might start screaming that they are being discriminated against.

The key I believe is to find ways to make the vehicles we love more efficient while offering incentives for people to purchase more efficient vehicles instead of simply penalizing people who want to make a choice to buy what they want. Anytime you create a restriction that falls from the social equilibrium point of what people want, it will have a negative effect on the welfare of people and firms. I would not give up my SUV, but I bought it since I have my old Ford Focus to fall back on for daily driving. I'm getting ready to leave on a trip to DC next week and sure as hell wouldn't drive it in the Focus, especially when I am taking 2 family and 2 friends with me.

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All good points and I agree with them.

The amount of time to actually build a new technology nuclear power plant is fairly short and inexpensive compared to the original designs, it can be built in a year or less.

Education needs to come first, with the proper eduction of the public to the safety and advantages of new nuclear technology shoud circumvent many of thos lawsuits or at least shorten their length because they will have no basis for winning.

And I agree we need courageous lawmakers to step up and lead the fight and I think if the public is educated to the benefits and the lawmakers realize they might just benefit by fighting a fight they should win and look like statesmen not just politicians in doing it, they might just find that courage.

And I really like the adjusted fees for driving fuel efficent cars over gas hogs (if they love their gas guzzling SUV so much let them pay for that priviledge).

And we definately could benefit from a new usable mass transit system like they have in Europe (where you really don't need a car to live and work). Good ideas!

Our biggest trouble is that it has to get really bad before people will wake up and realize they need to accept changes, like extremely high fuel costs and extreme pollution problems leading to our lives getting markedly worse.
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Old 05-20-2007, 06:38 PM   #125  
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Yes, I saw the History channel show on the proposed Nuclear waste container, and how much punishment it took. I was very impressed . . . by for most of america, they probably didn't see the show.

And yes , the public, on the whole, is not well educated, will continue to fear the nuclear waste "monster" especially those, who have lived through accidents that created horrific spectales . . .

Like the train that was carrying Propane and blew up. Or the train that was carrying chemicals, that when exposed to fire, became toxic . . . and of course the train caught fire.

So let's put aside the container and agree, it will do the job it was designed to preform . . .

Now you have to protect each shippment from being stolen by terrorists. . . or maybe worse, attacked by terrorists and the container blown up. Use enough C4 and you could probably send it into orbit - surely enough to crack the container . . . at least.

There is another form of creating energy, which no one seems to have mentioned (at I missed it) and that is using wave power from the ocean to create energy. It is being used in I believe Holland, and there are tests being conducted here in the USA.

We do have two huge coastlines.
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:05 PM   #126  
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They tried wave energy in Hawaii along with another interesting technology that used the temperature difference of sea water brought up from very deep (3000 feet) vs surface water temperatures. They were able to get a pilot plant that generated electricity, but just barely enough to have a little left over after powering the pumps and supplying electricity for the installation. After several years it was decided that neither of these technologies were cost efficient. They still operate their water temperature differential generator and use the cold water that is pumped up for a number of agriculture businesses. Most of the lobsters used for seeding are hatched on the big island of Hawaii! Yes Maine lobsters! They have vineyards that go through 4 fruit cycles per year by faking out their root systems to think there were four winters each year and several other projects that use the cold water. That is a good deal because since it is self sustaining we taxpayers don't have to support it. The wave generator like the wind generators (even more so) were just not cost effective to keep going. If you think of wave heights of 20 feet or so just require such big surface areas to capture the energy. Most dams are several hundred feet in head height to run a turbine, for example.

They also have a large go-thermal plant near Hilo. They used to have tours before the local Hawaiians caused them to shut down public access to the facility. The Hawaiians were protesting the plant because they felt like it was raping their fire goddess Pele. I don't know of many places in the USA where geo-thermal is viable.

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Old 05-20-2007, 08:36 PM   #127  
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Well. i went to visit my mom as I usually do on Sundays. She lives about 10 miles from me. And There is a 4 corner intersection where Commerical meets University - big intersection - 2 gas stations there and they always compete with each other . . .

$3.21 a gallon for regular. $3.41 for preminum.

These rising prices seem to be a daily occurrance lately. I guess I consider my self lucky as I only do about 300 miles a month.

But the last time I gassed up, the price was $2.95 a gallon!

We are definitely in trouble when it comes to solving our energy problems.

They could build another dam somewhere to create more hydro-electric power - which seems to be the most successful and popular as it creates no waste products. Just expensive and long to build.

I do wish they would revisit nuclear as it is cheap and quick to implement.

And we can do what we have always done . . .

Leave it to the next generation to get rid of the waste!
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:18 PM   #128  
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Instead of talking about radical tax schemes against certain vehicles, the cost of fuel alone will more than suffice for creating a disincentive for purchasing large vehicles. What economists have found is that the elasticity of demand for fuel is very inelastic in the short run for consumers. In other words, people don't really change their habits of purchases in the short run and continue to do things mostly the same. What does happen is that their demand becomes more elastic and much more sensitive to price over the long run. There were many reasons, but one of the reasons why Opec fell back on their restrictions decades ago was that they were realizing that exactly this was happening as people were starting to respond to the high fuel prices by changing their habits. Notice this was really the start of when the Japanese really became significant competitors to the US automotive firms. Politicians should let the market do the work and leave taxes alone. Simply put, we are not going to move to any alternative source unless it becomes socially and economically feasible for the general population. It sucks right now because even my Focus costs $33-35 to fill up now with its 13-14 gallon fuel tank. Yet since this vehicle becomes my daily driver when fuel goes over roughly the $2.75 a gallon mark, it actually burns more fuel than my SUV does since it gets driven roughly 320 miles a week while the SUV falls to roughly 80 miles a week. People will adapt over the long term without some radical politican deciding that they need to shock the market.

The problem with dams is that they create a whole host of ecological problems, especially with fish that go upstream to breed like certain types of Salmon. It creates a major disruption to their livelihood. They also take time and require a massive investment to build. I still think Nuclear is the way, but noone around me seems to think so.


As far as mass transit goes, i'm not sure how well that would work in many parts of our country. Our population isn't as centralized as in many other countries and is often very spread out. Because of the rather small density of our population(not counting our megacities), mass transit could be extremely expensive and could not significantly reduce fuel usage unless we start thinking big money with light rail type systems that could run on electricity or other sources.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Stewart View Post
Well. i went to visit my mom as I usually do on Sundays. She lives about 10 miles from me. And There is a 4 corner intersection where Commerical meets University - big intersection - 2 gas stations there and they always compete with each other . . .

$3.21 a gallon for regular. $3.41 for preminum.

These rising prices seem to be a daily occurrance lately. I guess I consider my self lucky as I only do about 300 miles a month.

But the last time I gassed up, the price was $2.95 a gallon!

We are definitely in trouble when it comes to solving our energy problems.

They could build another dam somewhere to create more hydro-electric power - which seems to be the most successful and popular as it creates no waste products. Just expensive and long to build.

I do wish they would revisit nuclear as it is cheap and quick to implement.

And we can do what we have always done . . .

Leave it to the next generation to get rid of the waste!
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Old 05-21-2007, 06:55 AM   #129  
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junehhan,

The market is already penalizing (and will do so even more as prices rise) the low mileage vehicles. A realtor friend of mine has a huge SUV and spent almost $6k for gasoline last year. He looked at trading the thing in (cost $40k and still being paid for), but the dealership told him they had a glut of used SUVs they couldn't sell and wouldn't take it on trade.


rbinck,

You are correct about the current solar technology - we just are not there yet. Right now it is expensive and only a small percentage of the solar energy that hits the collector is converted to electricity. There is quite a lot of research going into this technology right now, and there are real hopes that the efficiency (higher % of sunlight converted to electricity) can be raised and cost dropped enough to make this a viable solution.

The engineering professor who showed us the "world running out of energy" model back at FSU in the early 70's painted a fairly bleak picture of the future. He was optimistic that engineers could fix the problem with technology that would use renewable energy. I am not so sure. How can we maintain the current population levels (much less higher levels) at the same standard of living and energy consumption that we are used to today? Eventually the coal & oil & uranium run out.

This has been an excellent thread - I have heard some very interesting ideas and have learned a lot.
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Old 05-21-2007, 10:52 AM   #130  
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This has been an excellent thread - I have heard some very interesting ideas and have learned a lot.
It has been a very good thread, some very good ideas have been discussed and are food for thought.

It is funny that this is maybe one of the most informative and least combative threads on the entire forum has nothing to do with High Definition hardware or formats.

It is kinda of nice not have any "fanboy" rants interupting the discussion, afterall what could anyone say?

Blu-Ray discs have more capacity then hybrid vehicles?

HD DVD has much nicer sound quality then diesel cars?
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Old 05-21-2007, 10:52 AM   #131  
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You are very correct as that was one of the points I was making. My belief is that you should let the market equilibrium regulate the demand for gas guzzler vehicles as it does a very efficient job of doing so. Creating unnecessary taxes or legislation can simply create a host of problems as overall welfare goes down for both consumers and firms. Legislation and excessive taxes also create a level of inequality as some peole need these vehicles for their jobs or for recreational towing. Some people might desire an SUV, but also may be buying one for going on trips and cruising around instead of as a daily drivier. My understanding is that SUV sales are down roughly 33% and will likely continue to go down. You want a fall in the purchase of gas guzzlers? Looks like the market is already doing pretty well. The popularity of the new CUV market may have some effect as these newer vehicles have almost as much utility as an SUV(still will not tow as much), drives like a car, and gets fuel economy that is almost car like. I know that my father is looking at replacing his old Crown Vic with one of those new Ford Edge AWD's which supposedly get 24-25mpg in AWD configuration. I know that my suv's AWD system paid for itself this winter with all of the snow and really nasty ice.

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Originally Posted by SLedford View Post
junehhan,

The market is already penalizing (and will do so even more as prices rise) the low mileage vehicles. A realtor friend of mine has a huge SUV and spent almost $6k for gasoline last year. He looked at trading the thing in (cost $40k and still being paid for), but the dealership told him they had a glut of used SUVs they couldn't sell and wouldn't take it on trade.


rbinck,

You are correct about the current solar technology - we just are not there yet. Right now it is expensive and only a small percentage of the solar energy that hits the collector is converted to electricity. There is quite a lot of research going into this technology right now, and there are real hopes that the efficiency (higher % of sunlight converted to electricity) can be raised and cost dropped enough to make this a viable solution.

The engineering professor who showed us the "world running out of energy" model back at FSU in the early 70's painted a fairly bleak picture of the future. He was optimistic that engineers could fix the problem with technology that would use renewable energy. I am not so sure. How can we maintain the current population levels (much less higher levels) at the same standard of living and energy consumption that we are used to today? Eventually the coal & oil & uranium run out.

This has been an excellent thread - I have heard some very interesting ideas and have learned a lot.
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Old 05-21-2007, 10:57 AM   #132  
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It has been a very good thread, some very good ideas have been discussed and are food for thought.

It is funny that this is maybe one of the most informative and least combative threads on the entire forum has nothing to do with High Definition hardware or formats.

It is kinda of nice not have any "fanboy" rants interupting the discussion, afterall what could anyone say?

Blu-Ray discs have more capacity then hybrid vehicles?

HD DVD has much nicer sound quality then diesel cars?
It may be because we all agree on what needs to be done, but disagree on the methods of reaching that long term goal. It might also be because so far its been mostly adults doing the debating here. Maybe some of those kiddies don't know the Automotive section exists on this forum yet

I would LOVE to have an HD-DVD player in my SUV, but it wouldn't be of much use as I am always in the drivers seat and will never give it up to anyone. If I get fatigued on our trip to DC next week, we're pulling over as I don't like to hand my keyes even to friends I trust. My family? Forget it as they drive like asian girls.

I've thought about upgrading the factory speakers in the Focus since I spend so much more time in it these days, but I need that money to buy more HD-DVD's when the releases realy start piling out in the 2nd half of the year.
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:22 PM   #133  
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If we didn't already have the Honda Civic Hybrid (which get fantastic gas mileage) I would porbably be signing up for one of the new 2008 smart Passion coupes. I owned a 2003 smart Pulse coupe for several years and really loved it (it got up to 55 mpg) and the new version is larger and has more hp (slightly less gas mileage at up to 45 mpg) but still that is as good as you can get from a normal gasoline engined car (especially with an automatic transmission).

My next car purchase might be the new Honda FCX-V4 Hydrogen Fuel Cell car which will be available within 4 years or less ( it really appeals to me to be totally pollution free in sofar as my vehicle).

"Oh My Gawd" I might be a closet Tree Hugger!

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Old 05-21-2007, 01:34 PM   #134  
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If we didn't already have the Honda Civic Hybrid (which get fantastic gas mileage) I would porbably be signing up for one of the new 2008 smart Passion coupes. I owned a 2003 smart Pulse coupe for several years and really loved it (it got up to 55 mpg) and the new version is larger and has more hp (slightly less gas mileage at up to 45 mpg) but still that is as good as you can get from a normal gasoline engined car (especially with an automatic transmission).

My next car purchase might be the new Honda FCX-V4 Hydrogen Fuel Cell car which will be available within 4 years or less ( it really appeals to me to be totally pollution free in sofar as my vehicle).

"Oh My Gawd" I might be a closet Tree Hugger!

You are our resident tree hugger, Sledford is probably our moderate, and I would be the equivalent of a conservative conservationist. Just don't start joining the Sierra Club or any of those hypocritic groups and we'll get along fine
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Old 05-22-2007, 11:51 AM   #135  
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I work in the electrical industry.We have a 4KW solar system mounted on our headquarters. So far it has displaced about 2000 lb's of emissions that would have been put into the atmosphere. It's wired into the grid (our grid) and haven't had any problems with it once it was up and running. Washington state has implemented a new renewable energy law and there are windfarms popping up over in eastern WA. Oregon will be installing a trial wave powered farm on the Central coast. Bio fuels are becoming more prominent out here. Personally, my wife and I are waiting for the next generation hybrid before we get another car. I'm tired of the oil companies screwing this country. Oh, I've been to a symposium on hydrogen cells and not sure if they will be ready in less than 10 years.
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