Thursday, December 22, 2011

FROM ROOFTOP SOLAR TO ROADWAY ASPHALT, Our Next American Public Utility Infrastructure Model


(Please note, this essay is a continuation of my essay on: Solyndra.)

If we as Americans know that virtually every aspect of our public utility infrastructure and our public transportation infrastructure is obsolete, it only stands to reason that many other aspects of our man made 20th and 19th century urban architectural blueprint are equally obsolete. Thus, if the electrical power coming into our homes is being provided to us via deteriorating, above ground electrical power lines, electrical substations as well as electrical generation plants, it is fairly obvious that the electrical wiring inside virtually every American home (regardless of age) is in exactly the same poor condition. As our homes are, so to are the retail environments, offices, hospitals. schools, factories (and so forth) that we live our professional lives in outside of our homes.

While all of us truly do know that all of the above is true, one would think that some sort of universal 21st century industrial blueprint would be forthcoming from those we elect into public office to assure that the various energy sources we have come to rely upon over the years continue to be upgraded with the latest technology. In the same breath, as these same sources need to be seamlessly integrated with new energy sources via the same intelligent technological interface, it is perfectly clear that we as a collective body of dysfunctional American energy junkies, have not put forth the tremendously complex and discerned effort required of us all before all of us can expect to realize the enormous wealth that will come to our 21st century industrial, social and economic livelihood once we do.

As I have attempted, in my essay on Solyndra, to explain how a multitude of seemingly opposed energy conglomerates with singular financial interests could benefit from what I would characterize as "a renewed sense of collective, energy sector collective bargaining", I believe it is crucial to put forth a new, entirely non partisan and entirely non-economically competitive 21st century American public utility and public transportation blueprint so that those industrial sectors that are indeed involved with the development of large scale energy infrastructure can actually compete financially. In other words, as their are several groups of ambitious mixed energy use tag football teams wanting desperately to find a football field from which they can compete with one another in a friendly game of dynamic 21st century, mixed energy use and highly profitable new age American football, neither the playing field nor the rules of the game have as yet, been clearly defined. As a result, every industrial football player in America continues to stumble. As I am an architectural designer and a master carpenter, I speak from the viewpoint of America's building tradesmen who just like America's corporate level mixed energy source providers are looking for a way out of the political quagmire that prevents any and all of us from getting anything at all accomplished.

The three public utility questions I posed at the end of my Solyndra essay are, in my view crucial to find answers to - IF - WE AS A WHOLE AMERICA - are actually going to get to the point of applying the combined knowledge we possess in varied construction sectors to our collective 21st century national industrial goal of building beautiful American 21st century economic progress.

These questions are as follows:

Question Number One
When and how does a stationary natural gas appliance grow wheels?

Question Number Two
When that natural gas appliance leaves the homeowners garage on wheels, does that vehicle enter into the realm of new public utility transportation infrastructure?

Question Number Three
If the infrastructure is on wheels, then doesn't it appear somewhat obvious that we as a nation have created a substantially new public highway improvement funding mechanism?

These three questions are designed to provoke a high degree of advanced yet extraordinarily basic industrial/economic thought. As they are, they are, as well, designed to produce equally remarkable industrial/economic answers or solutions to the relatively simple challenge of finally creating a true mixed energy based public utility model that everyone in America can clearly benefit from.

As you may find it helpful to read or re-read my essay on Solyndra to understand where these thoughts came from in the first place, if you have done so, or, if you will do so, then let me get on to the first question.

Question Number One
When and how does a stationary natural gas appliance grow wheels?
In my Solyndra essay, I brought forward the notion that once our natural gas public utility infrastructure is supported by the infrastructure of solar, wind and geothermal technologies, natural gas has the distinct possibility of being freed up financially as well a structurally to address the fueling needs of an entirely new group of appliances that consume this gas. As solar, wind and geothermal become "the new stationary energy technologies of our 21st century" and as stationary simply means that these technologies are devoted almost exclusively to the heating and cooling and "micro-electrifying" of America's massive collection of buildings, natural gas free to become a "transitional public utility" which simply means this gas can now serve as a supplemental source of power for our nation's buildings as it is well serving as a primary source of power for the vehicles we all require on our daily comings and goings from those buildings.

As the moment natural gas is regulated in such an articulated manner, its fuel function is essentially transformed, that transformation is then the basis for all future funding of our nation's "micro-modular-light duty transportation infrastructure". Not really out of the business of providing natural gas to our nation's buildings, natural gas is none the less, fully prepared to take on its dynamic secondary 21st century responsibility of fueling a whole new generation of natural gas appliances that happen to have wheels, are drivable and have a clearly defined set of distance parameters from which the underground utility infrastructure required to direct natural gas to new sources and fueling outlets becomes, quite clearly financially doable.

Question Number Two
When that natural gas appliance leaves the homeowners garage on wheels, does that vehicle enter into the realm of new public utility transportation infrastructure?

While the answer to Question Number Two has been partially defined by the answer to Question Number One, the larger question becomes - What does the actual industrial and economic blueprint look like when natural gas does become a primary fuel source for our nation's 21st century mixed use transportation infrastructure?

An answer to this question is really quite easy to define.

When we consider that natural gas powered vehicles have become quite the dream of a host of manufacturing companies in our 21st century mixed energy use America, successfully defining the market based parameters that make these vehicles cost effective to produce, fuel and maintain is the issue. Having said this, the whole distance such vehicles can actually travel before being refueled is in fact, the larger issue. Thus, providing filling stations integrated into every building within the urban circle of travel of natural gas vehicles is crucial. Knowing that such circles are generally confined to the area of everyday travel most Americans in most communities travel within a given week should therefore sustain the justification for utilizing these fueling stations and the micro-urban geographical areas they serve as micro public transportation financing districts as well. Just as solar, wind and geothermal infrastructure is now being applied to every building in every micro-urban geographical area and in doing so creating stationary public utility financing districts across all of America, the financial gain of these two combined public utility districts that exist in virtually every neighborhood in every community throughout America would be astronomical in scope and lead to nothing less than enormous economic expansion of all industries having anything whatsoever to do with these two newly formed federal public utility mandates regulated by state to state, region to region and locality to locality state managed public utility commissions.

In other words, the answer to Question Number Two is widespread, highly disciplined regulatory management of the very same public utilities that have always been regulated and managed by different authorities that exist within both our federal and state governing bodies, but, with the simple added benefit of finally and intelligently acknowledging that with the advancement of a host of new understandings our our nation's combined mixed energy management brilliance, we all simply know that we can put this brilliance together to form a most dynamic and exciting industrial blueprint all of America can reasonably and practically digest socially and benefit economically from.

Question Number Three
If the infrastructure is on wheels, then doesn't it appear somewhat obvious that we as a nation have created a substantially new public highway improvement funding mechanism?

I want my readers to truly think about Question Number Three. In particular, I want you to take note of the phrase "new public highway improvement funding mechanism".
Thus far, this essay has addressed solar, wind, geothermal and natural gas energy as public utility modules that once combined and then strategically separated at crucial architectural points of sustainability or non-sustainability become the blueprint for some fairly advanced industrial and economic growth in our United States of America. As management of these some new and some old energy sectors can and should add significantly to our national goal of becoming energy independent, and, energy independence can be loosely defined as our national capacity to rid ourselves of dependency on imported energy, the much larger issue remains to be about how we export energy.

In a global economy, which is of course the economy all in America have had to contend with for far too long, reliance upon imported fuels has been the benchmark from which we could, in the same breath also rely upon the global sales of our American made products to provide among other things - jobs and personal investment portfolios that would continue to grow and expand. As it is quite obvious that neither of these two scenarios is playing out in either our America or our world today, the reason they are not is tied directly to the answers I provided to Question Number One and Two above.

As the only reason our American economy has ever been successful either nationally or internationally is the fact that America has always managed to be the global leader in industrial inventiveness and this is clearly not the fact today in 2011, I find it fascinating that while American based companies such as heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar are growing almost exclusively due to foreign sales of their earth moving equipment, the entire American building sector is virtually at a standstill. As within this profound industrial oddity there is essentially within our own national industrial borders, the overwhelming need for earth moving equipment to actually move and reshape American earth in virtually every American community, it would seem obvious that we probably should get on with the task of doing so. But as the reason Caterpillar is growing globally is due almost exclusively to the fact that developing nations need the infrastructure improvements America needed close to one hundred years ago and indeed got, what foreign nations are getting today is not the infrastructure improvements America has evolved to understand it needs today but rather a shallow industrial and environmental essay of how America has chosen to live quite repetitiously in its industrial past.

In other words, instead of great American industrial giants such as Caterpillar staying home and being directly involved in the transformational 21st century blueprinting of a truly mixed energy use American domestic industrial economy, our American grown and bred intellectual and engineering brilliance is squandered on the mass production of second rate infrastructure models for third world economies that do nothing other than deplete our own national industrial brilliance. As there has been a certain national urgency over the course of the past thirty years to expand America's economic presence globally and as that urgency has long passed a point where global trade has any relevance, the greater irrelevance of today's American economy remains the fact that our entire private sector national construction industry remains at a hopeless, redundant and irrelevant economic standstill.

The answer to Question Number Three then - is this.

If we know (and we do) that solar, wind and geothermal technologies properly applied in a regulated mixed energy use domestic American economy will diversify the building trades associated with retrofitting our nation's enormous collection of buildings, and, if we know that through such regulation, many new manufacturing, building trade and service sector industries will flourish once such regulation is properly structured, then we also know that heavy equipment will be needed as part of the building by building retrofitting we as a nation must embrace in virtually every community in our nation. Having said this and viewing the structure of our entire national public utility grid as being quite malleable, or, quite capable of being micro-divided into entirely new sub-categories, the heavy equipment that is manufactured by companies such as Caterpillar and must be used to rebuild virtually every neighborhood in America, and, requires an entirely different fuel source to operate its equipment, the knowledge that in fact heavy equipment does require diesel fuel to operate as opposed to natural gas, That knowledge lends itself quite nicely to the notion of creating yet another mixed energy use public utility therefore creating yet another funding mechanism for transportation infrastructure redevelopment here in our United States of America.

As what should appear obvious to my readers is the notion that I am defining industrial as well as economic shifts in our collective infrastructure thinking process, bringing diesel fuel or gasoline into America's vast collection of neighborhoods has the same industrial and economic imperative attached to it as does bringing natural gas or solar, wind and geothermal micro-energy grids into the same communities. In other words, any American community simply cannot consider itself as being financially viable if in fact all technologies associated with bringing all energy sectors into its geographical boundaries have not been considered. In the case of diesel fuel, in the case of heavy construction equipment operating at any time on any size project within a given community, in the case of heavy duty diesel or gasoline powered trucks, all operations having anything to do with the construction or reconstruction of any community and the subsequent transportation of equipment and materials in and out of a community should be federally regulated by and managed from entirely new state by state transportation authorities.

Being so extraordinarily task specific on the micro-regulation of energy sectors simply allows a vast spectrum of new business ideas to flourish within any given community or region. If there is a clearly defined cut off point where solar energy can be logically applied to one particular building and an equally logical cut off point where natural gas can be applied to that same building - if there is a clearly logical point where certain underground utilities going from one home to another and then another within any particular neighborhood grid are then being connected to even larger utility grids in a community, city or region, each industry should be regulated for its capacity to produce the long term revenues required to constantly assure the continued upgrading of the utility grid it, in and of itself, actually belongs to. Thus as solar, wind and geothermal are being regulated for their capacity to produce sustained industrial growth, job creation and long term investment opportunities within their clearly defined environmental parameters, there is no reason for these industries to be taxed for use of our nation's public highways. While they should be taxed for the geographical use of public land associated with interconnecting themselves to the architecture they power, that taxation on both the state and federal level should stop there. In the same breath, as natural gas is still being utilized as a fuel source for the same architecture, the fact that it is being utilized to fuel a whole new transportation sector that moves people to and from that architecture on a daily basis should also be recognized and taxed accordingly. Specifically, as natural gas powered vehicles have limited geographical transportation ranges, all industries within the whole dynamic family of emerging natural gas technologies should be taxed for the continued updating of the transportation (local roads and bridges) infrastructure these industries directly benefit from by manufacturing the vehicles and energy supply (gas stations) networks that require these roads for their associated industries to be perpetually profitable.

As what we are attempting as an advanced 21st century industrial American society is the clear and conscious production of truly advanced management criteria of a host of mixed energy resources,  without very clear boundaries from which a particular energy sector can constructively merge and co-mingle industrially and economically with other sectors, we simply will not be able to advance towards our larger economically viable infrastructural goal of doing so. Whereas the failure of Solyndra was clearly due to the insular goal of a handful of politically well connected solar visionaries to use the federal government both for false financing of and equally poor industrial regulatory visualization of America's whole infrastructure potential, the stark reality of our whole American industrial failure is that a company such as Caterpillar, which is using its heavy equipment engineering expertise quite profitably worldwide could just as easily find itself bankrupt if in fact we as intellegent, forward thinking, 21st century industrial Americans don't apply in a universal and across the board manner, the combined knowledge of virtually every energy sector that exists within our collective 21st century "labor intensive and financially quite valid", American Industrial Portfolio.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mike Patrick Dahlke

Please visit some of my other essays.