Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Solar Fit 052618 by flaglerbroadcasting Elmer Hall with Bill Gallagher EE & Telework

Solar Fit 052618 by flaglerbroadcasting | Free Listening on SoundCloud:


Give a listen to my May 26th appearance on the Solar-Fit radio show with host Bill Gallagher, “Solar Fit Renewable Energy Show” on channel 106.3 FM WNZF News Radio. (Elmer Hall on 05/26/18). You can also find the show, and past shows, archived at Solar-Fit:

It is a fun and informative show. I talked about our collective missed opportunities in energy efficiencies (EE) in buildings and telecommuting (Sustainable Remote Work centers). I like the idea of Negawatt, the Watt of electricity that is never used, so it is never produced. A similar idea is the Negagallon of gas, the gallon of gas never used because you avoided driving (like telecommuting).

There are surprisingly huge savings from both building efficiencies (Negawatts) and teleworking (Negagallons).  These are both win-win-win ideas that Bob Hinkelman – a partner and coauthor (2017, 2018) – and I have worked on and have amazing potential.
  • EE in buildings. Our estimates are that the savings from energy efficiency in buildings
    could save about $300B in the US each year with the “change in your pocket” (things like programable thermostats, LEDs, smart meters, caulk and duct tape), i.e., stuff that has a payback immediately or within one year. (See Alliance to Save Energy for great tips.) For new construction, a greener building can have 80% lower operating costs and be healthier, while costing within 10% of more traditional construction costs.
    EE TIP. Do an energy audit – usually provided by your local power company (frequently for free) – to evaluate current usage and best places
    to start conserving energy.
    EE TIP2. First take your energy use down through energy efficiency, thereby reducing dramatically the energy requirements when evaluating the next steps toward a zero-carbon footprint like solar, wind and geothermal.
  • Remote Work Center for telework. At Strategic Business Planning Company, we have done a lot of work related to the concept of telecommuting and providing workers the easy ability to work from home or from a work-center that is very close to home. Based on Lister and Harnish
    numbers from 2010, we estimate the total savings from just 10% of the commuters who drive along to teleworking would result in about $357B in savings per year (113M x 10% = 11.3M * $31,600 = $357B).  In 3 years, that would be more than $1.1T in savings. Or, with 30% of the drive-alones switching to telecommuting, that would be $1.1T in savings each, and every, year. That is a perpetuity of savings. (At 5% interest, a perpetuity of $1.1T represents $21.4T net
    present value terms ­– more than the entire annual US Gross Domestic Product in 2018.)
    Telework  TIP. Selectively pilot teleworking from home and log the time, distance, and productivity.
In both building EE and telework, it is important to monitor and measure result. It is especially important to monitor the many benefits of the Negawatt and the Negagallon that don’t immediately show up in dollar savings. Allocating the financial savings is a nice way to fully enjoy the direct savings as well.
  • Smart Savings and disposable Income. Savings of energy, say $100, is worth much more than the equivalent of income. An individual would need 30% to 50% more in salary (say $130 in gross income or $150 dollars for the employer) to equate to the same amount of disposable income. For a business with 10% net income, it would require about $1,000 increase in sales to equate to $100 increase in disposable cash. This is a perpetuity of savings (or a commitment to the increased sales indefinitely).
    $TIP. Log the results and put the savings into a separate account or fund. The $100 per month that would have gone to utilities could, for example, be automatically posted to an IRA account, potentially amplifying it by your tax rate. Or, use the savings to help pay for a Solar PV system.
    $TIP2. The 30% Federal Tax credit for energy efficiency for individuals makes the investment in new energy efficient appliances and renewable energy very attractive, usually with a 3- to 9-year payback (and life-time present value is often double your investment).
The remote work center concept we have been working on, we call E3 because of the win-win-win savings to the employer, employee and environment. Many companies already have a telecommuting option for employees who can work from home, but most companies don’t appreciate all the benefits. Many managers still have the mindset that they want to see your smiling face at work at 8am, no matter how many hours in traffic it takes for you to get there. About 50% to 60% of the current
commuters should be able to telework once a week or more. This utilizes current technology and does not require any government “help”.

In all cases of efficiency, we want to measure and record the savings. With consolidated reporting, the savings can be reported to the individual company, while aggregated statistics would be provided by city, region and state. Both the estimates of costs savings for reduced travel and CO2 (CO2 equivalent) savings will be gathered. The carbon savings could, potentially, be sold as carbon
credits (like in California) or utilized by the company for its own internal costing structure in Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.

The total costs of commuting are 25 to 30 times more than the costs associated with gas. The lost hours, the stress, the likelihood of getting into accidents, etc., make the complete costs more like $35,000 to $40,000 for a single telecommuter. In 2010, based on significant available research, Kate Lister and Tom Harnish (2010) estimated that the cost savings to the employer were about $21,400 for a full-time telecommuter. The big costs are recruiting, hiring and training a replacement worker when the current employee quits because of the commute, or gets disabled from an accident because of the additional hours per week in traffic. Lister estimated only about $8,000 for the employee, including gas; but we believe it is much more – probably $10,000 to $15,000 – because we focus
on drive-alone commuters (and include costs that are reasonable, but not included in the 2010 Lister study). The environmental savings are less than $2,000 per telecommuter by Lister, but we estimate that number could be much higher, like $5,000 to $10,000, when considering the big externality costs.

All things considered, the savings from a full-time-equivalent teleworker could be $40,000 to $50,000 per year. The savings to the employer, employee and environment are massive.

Individually, we are missing big opportunities every day. Put those savings together for everyone, and it makes a world of difference.

See – well, listen, actually – to my Solar-Fit Renewable Energy radio show: Elmer Hall on 05/26/18. What do you think?
You will find other great episodes on Solar-Fit Renewable Energy Radio!:-)
Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2018). Perpetual Innovation™: A guide to strategic planning, patent commercialization and enduring competitive advantage, Version 4.0. Morrisville, NC: LuLu Press. ISBN: 978-1-387-31010-4 Retrieved from:
Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2017). Perpetual Innovation™: Patent primer 4.0:
Patents, the great equalizer of our time! An overview of intellectual property
for inventors and entrepreneurs.
  Morrisville, NC: LuLu Press.  ISBN:
978-1-387-07026-8 Retrieved from: [Amazon v4.0e  ASIN: B074JJCDHG Retrieved from:
Lister, K. & Harnish, T. (2010, May). Workshifting benefits: The bottom line. Retrieved from

Specific Radio Show of Elmer Hall:
The radio show archives:

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller, plus Glyphosate fate

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades | Business | The Guardian:

There is lots of mounting evidence against Roundup, and/or the use of genetically modified crops. The research seems to be evenly split between the research paid for by Monsanto ( directly or indirectly ) and the more independent research that points to issues.

The evidence is pretty clear, however, of the negative impact of prolonged glyphosate use on the soil.

Want to know more about Glyphosate on the soil, go to the Soil Association  ( They summarized available research related to the impact of glyphosate on soil health as of mid 2016. They found mixed results but strong evidence to support serious concerns about glyphosate and its impact on these specific areas of soil health:
1) leaching into the water, especially with prolonged glyphosate exposure
2) impact on soil micro-organisms, especially when regular use of herbicide(s)
3) impact on fungi (that live near plant roots that provide nutrients as well as protect against drought and disease
4) severity and occurrence of crop diseases
5) impact on earthworms.

For example, two studies found no impact of glyphosate on earthworms, 4 studies did (related to reproduction, movement or activity of different species of earthworms).

Although the World Health Organization has a report that suggests that glyphosate can "probably" cause cancer, other international organizations have not gone so far. See the article in Wikipedia on glyphosate.

Note that glyphosate was first patented in 1950 as a chelator. "Stauffer Chemical patented the agent as a chemical chelator in 1964 as it binds and removes minerals such as calciummagnesiummanganesecopper, and zinc." (View patent here.)

It wasn't until 1970s that Monsanto came out with its patented herbicide under the brand name RoundUp.

Note that a chelator can be used to deliver certain minerals as a fertilizer to the soil in ways that would not otherwise be readily absorbable to plants. But in the case of glyphosate, it ties up critical minerals (calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc), depriving the plant (weed) to the point of killing it.

Glyphosate is a registered pesticide (EPA) since 1970s. The most recent draft of the risk assessment by the EPA is here. The draft is open for discussion, so those people/organizations who think that glyphosate is more of a health (and nutrition) risk than Monsanto would want us to believe have an  opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

RoundUp is applied to the entire field, both the genetically modified crop (corn or soy) and the weeds within. The weeds die, the crop does not. But you have to wonder about the health and nutritional value of the crop?

It is unlikely that Monsanto has been fully truthful and completely forward on the health impacts of phosphate. It seems even more unlikely that Monsanto has been totally forthright on the nutritional values of organics vs. industrial farming with GMO crops that are heavily doused with glyphosate.

If Monsanto has been untruthful, these court cases could go against the company. If the company has been covering up damning evidence, it could become really, really ugly for the company.

No matter what happens, the merger of Monsanto with Bayer is eminent. (Bayer's $66B buyout offer is from September of 2016, but still facing regulator approval.) Monsanto has enough negative image issues, that the name should be discontinues within a year or so. It will be interesting to see how much liability from RoundUp, Bayer will bear!???

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

California Becomes First State to Mandate Solar on New Homes - Bloomberg

California Becomes First State to Mandate Solar on New Homes - Bloomberg:

California is 1/3 of the US economy and probably 1/3 of the US housing market. So, when California voted today to have mandatory solar on most new construction houses, this blows the top off of the non-solar rooftop.

Headlines read that the CA house will now cost about an additional $10,000 to build with the energy efficiency and solar roof mandates. This Bloomberg article says that the savings will be about twice the increase in building costs.

True, it costs more to build, but the operating costs are dramatically less.

This is related to new houses, so the decision is easier than for an existing house.

However, that decision should be really simple as well for a house with good sun exposure. There are tax credits and ways to finance that will allow the homeowner to pay for the solar system out of the savings in power, until the whole solar system is paid off in 15-20 years and then it is a perpetuity of savings!...

So, a $40,000 system in Florida is $28,000 after a 30% federal tax credit. The payment on the loan would be equal to, or less than the payments for electricity, on average. And, after you pay off the system in, say, 15 years, you have about $250 worth of net savings per month for a long, long time. That's $3,000 per year in year 15; as a perpetuity, at 5% interest, the net present value is about $29,000 positive.

Wait a minute. That is more, net present value-wise, then the entire out-of-pocket cost of the system if you had paid cash up front (less the tax credit). But you may not have paid any cash up front for it and paid all loan/lease payments from the savings on the electric bill!

So, if the same math applies for a $300,000 home in California (cause everything's far more expensive in California), which is now increased to $310,000. The additionally $10k can be separately financed; probably, with terms of nothing down and loan payments that are less than the electric bill. That is, from day one, the cash flows from operations are as good or better than paying full electric bills.

Once you pay off the PV loan, you now have free electricity, for a long time.

Plus, it is good for the environment and reduces CO2 emissions, and significantly reduces the reliance on centralized energy production form your favorite power utility.

The net present value of the cash flows may be $10-$20,000 positive.

A couple important factors: Power companies have traditionally increased costs by more than the level of inflation (inflation at about 2% and rising). Inflation and interest rates should rise significantly with full employment. PV technology reduces very slightly over time (0.5% per year).

The private PV power system protects against the rising costs of power.
So, the headlines might more accurately read:

New CA Solar Mandate will increase home costs by about $10,000 but offset by about twice from the reduced of operating costs. 

Another win, win, win of sustainability.

This should not be a hard decision to make, in any sunny state. The mandate should not be necessary. Consumers should be making this decision as a smart decision, not just a green decision.
Being Green, and making Green too.

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