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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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Quit defending Obamacare! Lets fix it by moving toward a single-payer system

SUNDAY, JUL 2, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Hey, Democrats: Quit defending Obamacare! Let’s fix it — by moving toward a single-payer system
Obamacare was a historic accomplishment. But single-payer or a "robust" public option are now achievable goals

I’ve spent my life in politics, and the health care bill Mitch McConnell appears so desperate to revive is the single worst piece of legislation I’ve ever read. I say “appears” because I still can’t quite believe he wants to pass it. Its actual enactment would threaten his Senate majority as surely as it would the health of tens of millions of Americans. McConnell’s judgment is so clouded by partisanship and ideology one can easily see how he’d be blind to the bill’s moral dimensions. What’s harder to accept is that so sly a political fox wouldn’t sniff the enormous risk.


This fight feels like a reprise of the Democrats’ 2016 presidential campaign, heavy on moralizing, light on detail. Now as then, the words Democrats live by — “Why take a chance?” and “Don’t scare the donors” — leave them precious little to say. Sixty percent of Americans favor single-payer health care. Zero percent of Democratic leaders in Congress stand with them. The only other practical way to cut costs is a public option. Democrats only whisper its name. Why risk getting lost in the policy weeds or ruffling the feathers of their sometime allies in the insurance industry?


In 2008, candidate Barack Obama backed a public option and opposed a mandate that would force people to purchase insurance. He observed drily, and correctly, that the main reason most people don’t buy health care is because they can’t afford it. His chief primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, promised the opposite: a mandate but no public option. Obama made other related promises, among them that he’d allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. He even vowed to let C-SPAN cameras into heretofore secret health care negotiations.

In office, Obama reversed himself. In early 2009, in meetings to which he forgot to invite C-SPAN, he made private pacts with leaders of the insurance and drug industries. He dropped negotiated drug prices and the public option, and picked up Clinton’s mandate. Experts said he needed it to pay for the whole thing. But it also guaranteed insurers permanent, expanded control of the “market.” According to his own analysts, he thus passed on the two greatest sources of savings in his entire plan.

The fatal flaw of the Affordable Care Act is that it costs too much....


Bill Curry was White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut. He is at work on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism.

McKinsey: Cheaper batteries present imminent threat of load defection for utilities

McKinsey: Cheaper batteries present imminent threat of load defection for utilities
AUTHOR Peter Maloney@TopFloorPower
June 30, 2017

Dive Brief:

Continued energy storage cost declines present a growing threat of disruption for utility business models, a new study from McKinsey & Co. finds.

The study reports energy storage is already economical for many commercial customers at today’s prices and that with the paring back of incentives such as net metering in many states, combining solar power with energy storage is beginning to be attractive for some households.

Continued cost declines are moving energy storage from niche applications, such as grid balancing, to broader uses such as replacing conventional power generators for reliability, providing power-quality services, and supporting renewables integration, according to McKinsey.

Dive Insight:

Energy storage prices are falling faster than anyone expected, with battery costs down to less than $230/kWh in 2016 from almost $1,000/kWh in 2010, McKinsey noted.

The cost declines are being driven by a growing market for consumer electronics and demand for electric vehicles. In addition, companies in Asia, Europe, and the United States are building large factories to scale up for expected demand for lithium-ion batteries...

McKinsey report in full:
June 2017
Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector
By David Frankel and Amy Wagner



net energy metering (NEM) refers to rules that allow excess power to be sold back to the grid at retail rates; and feed-in tariffs, which are guaranteed price adders for renewable power, have played an important role in expanding the global market for renewables. In the US states that have implemented such rules, NEM has proved to be a powerful incentive for consumers to install solar panels.

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Although it has been helpful for solar, NEM also has put utilities under pressure. It reduces demand because consumers make their own energy; that increases rates for the rest, as there are fewer bill payors to cover the fixed investment in the grid, which still provides backup reliability for the solar customers. The solar customers are paying for their own energy but not paying for the full reliability of being connected to the grid. The utilities’ response has been to design rates that reduce the incentive to install solar by moving to time-of-use pricing structures, implementing demand charges, or trying to reduce how much they pay customers for the electricity they produce that is exported to the grid.

However, in a low-cost storage environment, these rate structures are unlikely to be effective at mitigating load losses. This is because adding storage allows customers to shift solar generation away from exports to cover more of their own electricity needs; as a result, they continue to receive close to the full retail value of their solar generation. This presents a risk for widespread partial grid defection, in which customers choose to stay connected to the grid in order to have access to 24/7 reliability, but generate 80 to 90 percent of their own energy and use storage to optimize their solar for their own consumption.

We are already seeing this begin to play out in places where electricity costs are high and solar is widely available, such as Australia and Hawaii. On the horizon, it could occur in other solar-friendly markets, such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York (Exhibit 2). Many utility executives and industry experts thought the risk of load loss was overblown in the context of solar; the combination of solar plus storage, however, makes it much more difficult to defend against.



Much more, including discussion of how stacking the value derived from multiple uses of the same system works to make behind the meter storage more enticing. It includes a chart showing various applications for battery storage and the general value of those uses...

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works. And Elon Musk May Add 4 More

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works. And Elon Musk May Add 4 More
Could a gigafactory glut lead to oversupply?

by Jason Deign
June 29, 2017

Gigafactory announcements have been trending in recent months, with plans for at least 10 new plants revealed in the last six months. Half a dozen have been planned in the last month alone.

In Germany, for example, the Daimler subsidiary Accumotive laid the foundation for a $550 million plant designed to take annual lithium-ion battery production from its current level of 80,000 units up to around 320,000.


The most aggressive gigafactory plans, however, remain with the company that came up with the concept. Tesla’s Elon Musk has said he will announce “probably four” new gigafactories this year. One has long been slated for Europe, and another has been confirmed to be in the works in Shanghai, China.

The recent announcements follow at least five gigafactory proposals put forward for Europe before the end of last year, including facilities in Sweden, Hungary and Poland. Not all the new plants will focus on lithium-ion batteries, though.

More at https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/10-battery-gigafactories-are-now-in-progress-and-musk-may-add-4-more?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=GTMDaily
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