Green Stock Investments – 2014 Outlook – Rescheduled

We had to reschedule out investment outlook webinar.  It was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but we’ve moved it to the same time 4:14pm ET / 1:15pm PT on November 21st.

Details of the webinar follow:

—————————————–
Meeting Number: 21922303
Subject: Green Stock Investments – 2014 Outlook
Date: 11/21/2013
Time: 01:15 PM US/Pacific; 4:15 PM US/Eastern
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Tom Konrad and Jan Schalkwijk of the JPS Green Economy Fund will share their outlook for green stock investments going into 2014.

To join from your computer or mobile device, click this link or copy it into your browser:
http://fuze.me/21922303

To join the audio, choose one of two methods:
Internet Audio: Simply select the internet audio option after join.
Your Phone: Call +13478177654.

If prompted, enter the meeting number: 21922303, then press #.

While you can join a Fuze Meeting from a browser, our apps give you the best experience.
Get Fuze for your device here at www.fuzebox.com/products/download.

Need help? You can connect to our Customer Support Team or access self-help tools at www.fuzebox.com/support.

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Postponed- 2014 Outlook on Green Stock Investing – Webinar

This webinar has been postponed to Thursday November 21st.

My co-manager Jan Schalkwijk at the Green Economy Fund and I will be hosting  a free webinar on November 7th (Thursday) at 4:15pm Eastern, 1:15PM Pacific.

We’ll discuss our outlook for green stock investing in 2014, and also take questions.

Here are the details:

—————————————–
Meeting Number: 21922303
Subject: Green Stock Investments – 2014 Outlook
Date:    11/07/2013  POSTPONED.  New Date: 11/21/13
Time:    01:15 PM US/Pacific  4:15PM ET
—————————————–

Tom Konrad and Jan Schalkwijk of the JPS Green Economy Fund will share their outlook for green stock investments going into 2014.

To join from your computer or mobile device, click this link or copy it into your browser:
http://fuze.me/21922303

To join the audio, choose one of two methods:
Internet Audio: Simply select the internet audio option after join.
Your Phone: Call +13478177654.

If prompted, enter the meeting number: 21922303, then press #.

While you can join a Fuze Meeting from a browser, our apps give you the best experience.
Get Fuze for your device here at www.fuzebox.com/products/download.

Need help? You can connect to our Customer Support Team or access self-help tools at www.fuzebox.com/support.

Leave a Comment

Electric Trucks, Renewable MLPs, and Heat Pumps

A few more of my pieces have run on EarthWise, a 2 minute radio program on WAMC radio in the Northeast.  Here are links:

All are read by the Cary Institute’s Bill Schlesinger.

I got involved with this by volunteering with the Institute.  If you’re near Millbrook, NY, the Cary Institute has regular free lectures on the science of the environment that are well worth attending.  But make sure to get there early- not only for free cookies and coffee, but because they tend to fill up pretty quickly.

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Peak Oil on the Radio

peak_oil2[1]Another EarthWise piece I wrote aired on WAMC Wednesday.  This one was a very basic introduction to the concept of Peak Oil, which is pretty much what it had to be, since it was a 2-minute piece for a general radio audience which might not have even heard of peak oil.

You can listen to it or read the full text here:

What Do We Mean By Peak Oil?

If you’d like something with a bit more meat, check out my in-depth look at the economic implications of Peak Oil, The End Of Elastic Oil.

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The Elasticity of Electricity Demand

In an attempt to rebut economist Ed Dolan’s support of a carbon tax, I came across a RAND Study done for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which estimasted the short term elasticity of residential electricity demand at -0.2 and the long run elasticity of demand a -0.32.

This is a very inelastic market ( |elasticity| << 1 ), and so supports my argument that regulation is likely to be the most economically efficient approach to reducing residential electricity use.

Dolan compiled some numbers that put long run elasticity of gasoline demand at around 0.5, which also implies that regulation has a role to play in reducing gas usage, although it’s high enough that carbon taxes are also likely to be somewhat effective; a combination seems the best approach to me.

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Making Carbon Pricing Work Better

When it comes to the most economically efficient way to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions(GHG), the economic consensus is that a carbon tax, or, failing that, a carbon trading scheme is the best way to go. The idea is that a price for carbon will raise the cost of carbon-producing activities, nudging people and companies towards less harmful behavior.

I have a problem with this line of reasoning, since it rests on the false assumption that price signals are the most effective way to change behavior. That’s true is an economist’s ideal efficient market, but a moment’s reflection shows that the markets we want to affect are far from efficient.

Electric utilities are regulated entities, and hence insulated from market forces. Consumers don’t respond well to price signals either, because most don’t understand where they are wasting energy. If they did, there would be a run on caulk to air seal homes, since the payback from air-sealing can be a matter of weeks. If a 1000% annual return from air sealing is not enough to get people to spend a little time with a caulk gun, is increasing the return to 1200% with a carbon tax really going to make a difference?

Compact fluorescent bulbs are another excellent example of how the energy market often fails to be efficient. The payback on CFLs is usually on the order of months, but uptake was very slow until recently, now that higher wattage incandescent bulbs are being phased out. By regulation.

The adoption of CFLs is a concrete example where the most economically efficient outcome is being achieved by regulation, after years of failure by market forces.

I had just finished making the above case to an economist at a mixer at The Cary Institute in Millbrook, NY when I was asked to write for a public radio program sponsored by the Institute.  Earth Wise logo I had been talking to the Institute’s volunteer coordinator about opportunities that make use of my skills, and she hit on helping them write some segments for Earth Wise, a daily 2 minute radio program on WAMC.

So I went home and wrote up my ideas, outlined above, on carbon pricing.  The first draft did not work for them, since they had aired a program in favor of a carbon tax, so I re-wrote it with a focus on making carbon pricing more effective by making the energy market more efficient.   The result aired on July 3rd, and you can listen to it or read it here: http://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/?p=2668.

With only two minutes, it’s an interesting exercise of packing my ideas into just 280 words, especially considering that for me, 600 words is what I consider a short peice, and it’s not unusual for me to write several thousand.

For future episodes, I plan to tackle less complex subjects.

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Adding a Programmable Thermostat to Mitsubishi Mr. Slim Heat Pumps

As part of an ongoing energy upgrade of my 1930 home, I had four Mitsubishi Mr. Slim mini-split heat pumps installed (three MUZ/MSZFE09NA 9000 BTU units, and one MUZ/MSZ12NA 12,000 BTU unit.)

If price had been no object, I probably would have gone for Waterfurnace’s (TSX:WFI/OTC:WFIFF) Series 7 or Climatemaster’s Trilogy ground source heat pumps,  but my home’s existing heating is an oil boiler and radiators, and the Series 7 would require installing air ducts throughout the house.  The mini splits have the advantage that the refrigerant lines can run up the outside of the house, making them much easier to retrofit.

The geothermal systems I was quoted would have cost $50,000 to $60,000 (minus a $500 rebate from my utility), while the mini-splits cost $15,500 (minus a $2000 rebate.)

Because I’m also doing extensive insulation and air sealing, my heating bill is only about $2000 a year, even using oil at over $4 a gallon.  After using the air source heat pumps for two months, I expect these mini splits will approximately halve that.  The geothermal system would have done better, but even if it cut my heating bill by an impossible 100%, it would have taken 25 years to pay back my investment.  The mini-splits will have an estimated payback of about 13 years, which is not great, but both they and the geothermal system have the added advantage of giving me efficient air conditioning in a home that did not previously have it.  In New York’s Hudson Valley where I live, A/C is only useful for about 1 month a year, but it’s sure nice to have during that hot and sticky month!

In any case, I’m happy with the mini splits except for one thing: they have very limited programability, something I did not realize before I had them installed.  The best you can do with the included remote controller is set them to turn on and off once each during a given 24 hour period, and you have to manually set this up every day to use them that way.

There is an available programmable thermostat (Mitsubishi kit MHK1), but it is intended to be installed with the heat pumps, not after the fact.  My HVAC contractor offered to install them anyway, but he wanted $350 each, or a total of $1,400 for all four.  That’s not unreasonable, since the MHK1 retails for  $243, but it was more than I was ready to pay.

Since he told me he would have to figure out how to do the install from the documentation, and I had seen him struggling with the translated-from-Japanese when he was trying to figure out what was wrong with one of the units when it was first installed.  (It turns out two of the wires were reversed.)   I’m decent at that sort of thing, so I decided to give it a go myself.

There was one point where the documentation was completely unhelpful.  I figured it out eventually, but the rest of this post should save you a lot of trouble if you’re trying to do the same thing.

Installing Mitsubishi Programmable Thermostat Kit MHK1 on Mr. Slim Heat Pumps

  • Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver
  • Time required: 15 min (experienced) to 1 hour (first time).

Manual

Not only does the manual say to install the data cable before the heat pump is installed, there is no information about where the “CN105″ connector on the control board is to be found, or even where the control board is.  None of the documentation I found online was any more helpful.  Eventually, I figured out where the control board and CN105 connector were, and how to get to them.  Here’s how:

Turn off the power to your heat pump at the circuit breaker.

Remove the horizontal vanes

Remove the horizontal vanes

remove screw covers

remove screw covers

Covers removed... screw locations circled

Covers removed… screw locations circled

After 2 screws holding the unit cover are in place, the cover can be removed by pressing in around the edges, and popping it off.

When the cover is removed, the bar containing the i-see and indicator lights may swing down.

When the cover is removed, the bar containing the i-See and indicator lights may swing down.

Don't panic, just hang it back on the two plastic hooks like the one shown here

Don’t panic, just hang it back on the two plastic hooks like the one shown here

Now remove the Emergency operation switch by pressing on the tab shown here

Now remove the Emergency Operation switch by pressing on the tab shown here

You can now remove the screw that holds the control board cover

You can now remove the screw that holds the control board cover and remove the cover to access the board.

These wires, too.

You’ll need to disconnect this wire to slide out the control board.

SONY DSC

This wire, too.

Now you can gently slide out the control board and connect to the CN105 port, shown here.

Now you can gently slide out the control board and connect the control wire to the CN105 port, shown here, circled.  It’s located in the bottom back corner of the control board.

You’ll want to snake the control wire through the unit so that it’s hidden when everything is installed.   Make sure you’ve left plenty of slack on the control wire, so it does not pull off when you put the control board back.

Now you can reverse the above process to put everything back where you found it.

You can now connect the wireless receiver, and proceed as described in the installation guide.

You can now connect the wireless receiver, and proceed as described in the installation guide.

The rest of the manual was no harder to follow than these things usually are.

It took me a few hours to figure this out… hope I can save a few readers the aggravation.

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