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October 19, 2011 • Current Events, Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability

Driving past windmills on the way to the Windy City

by Roger Durham

My wife and I were on our way to Chicago for a long weekend. We were taking in the sites, wondering if we should stop in Lafayette on the way back to see Purdue University’s campus when we came around a bend in I-65 and saw something completely disorienting. Actually, the disorientation was not immediate.

“Look,” my wife said, “there are some windmills over there, giant windmills.” We made this trip to Chicago a

Close Encounters

couple of years earlier and didn’t see any windmills. It was like they had just appeared overnight. They were pretty cool looking, for the first couple of miles. But those few windmills become dozens and those dozens became hundreds. They were spinning slowly, majestically and some of them were very close to the interstate. continue

July 14, 2011 • Current Events, Natural Gas

Hurricanes a’comin’

by Roger Durham

Stormy Weather

What do Emily, Franklin, Gert and Harvey have in common? They each appear on the National Hurricane Center’s official 2011 list of names for storms. Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma have all been retired from that list because of their association with ferocious storms in the past. I think about hurricanes every year about this time, not just because I find them fascinating, but because I have lived through the havoc they can wreak on businesses, even as far away from the coastline as Louisville, Kentucky. continue

June 14, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives

What do energy-risk managers, meteorologists, geologists and evangelists have in common?

by Roger Durham

Stormy times

This year, energy-risk managers, meteorologists, geologists and evangelists have all had their hands full trying to interpret the signs. It’s been a devastatingly busy year. There were record snowfalls and rain totals in many parts of the United States during the winter and early spring. There was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March. Tornadoes ripped through Alabama and Missouri in April and May. Communities along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers were overwhelmed with floods, with more flooding to follow out west as rivers brace for the runoff from what was a record snow pack  in many of the ranges from Montana to the Sierra Nevada. continue

May 12, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives

What does the Kentucky Derby have to do with the price of gas?

by Roger Durham

The Kentucky Derby

My wife is one (of many) who seems to subscribe to the theory of “The Holiday Gas Price Conspiracy.” Despite evidence to the contrary, there are people who insist that prices always go up as holidays approach. The most recent evidence to refute the theory came last weekend in Louisville – home of the Kentucky Derby. continue

April 12, 2011 • Perspectives

Energy and the Cloud

by Roger Durham

Do you have any idea how much energy is consumed by the cloud? No, not that cumulus cloud outside

Data Center

your window. I’m talking about the cloud that hosts a growing majority of the world’s electronic data. I’m talking about the cloud that makes Facebook and Google and Amazon and iTunes possible. According to a report from EnergyStar, EPA estimates place the 2006 electricity consumption level of all U.S. servers and data centers at something close to 61 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). That consumption number is projected to climb closer to 100 billion kWh in 2011. And that growth will only continue as cloud computing proliferates.  continue

March 9, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Energy Efficiency and the Cradle of Golf

by Roger Durham

As an avid golfer, I have a keen appreciation for a well-maintained golf course. It is not much fun to play a course with patchy fairways, bumpy greens, or sand traps that are like concrete. You want a course to reward good shots, punish

The Cradle of Golf

bad shots, and allow the skill of the golfer, not the condition of the course, to determine the outcome of a match. It is imperative that those in charge of maintaining courses, especially for private clubs, do everything they can to keep them healthy and well groomed. Cutting corners is not encouraged or rewarded. Greenkeepers who like their jobs understand that. So, when I conducted an Internet search for energy-related articles that have anything to do with golf, I was not expecting much. My assumption was that energy efficiency, energy conservation, and sustainability strategies, are relative strangers to the vernacular of golf course maintenance. continue

February 8, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives

The Long and the Short of Energy News

by Roger Durham

A quick scan of energy-related headlines last week presented an interesting perspective. Like a lesson in macro versus micro economics, the news reminded me that while long-term energy policy implications are at play in the Middle East, there are short-term infrastructure issues that challenge the supply of energy in the United States. That juxtaposition of long versus short term / global versus local concerns is not unique to this past week, but the contrapuntal headlines make it hard to miss: continue

January 11, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Perspectives

New Year’s Confession

by Roger Durham

I’ve got a confession to make. I work for an energy management company that offers, among other things, energy sustainabilityservices, but I have been, for most of my life, largely agnostic about “green energy.” I know. It’s not comfortable to say out loud. But it’s true. And based on my background, being agnostic about renewable energy is probably a generous position. You see, I grew up, and still live, in a coal-producing state. I am married to a woman whose grandfather was a coal miner. My Dad started a family petroleum business which put bread on the table and paid the country club dues and sent me and my 3 siblings to good private universities. When I succeeded my father in that business, I grew fond of the sweet smell of diesel fuel, and the nice things it afforded. I have always liked petroleum. continue

December 14, 2010 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability

Shades of Green

by Roger Durham

Kermit knows sustainability.

Kermit the Frog may not have been thinking about renewable energy when he sang, “It’s not that easy being green.” But he could have been. The further we move along the spectrum of energy sustainability, the more true those words seem to be. A post by Drew Voros, appearing in MercuryNews.com, is one of the more recent examples of the complexity surrounding alternative energy sources. As Voros reports, the Altamont Pass and surrounding hills in California, which stand between the San Francisco Bay area and the Central Valley region, have become the stage for an ironic battle between opposing environmental concerns. continue

November 22, 2010 • Current Events, Perspectives

The cost of integrity.

by Roger Durham

The bad news kept piling up for BP. And not all of it had to do with oil in the gulf. According to Emily Price, in a PCWorld blog post, BP added to its troubles by some ill advised image control tactics.

Price reported that British Petroleum had admitted to “doctoring” an image posted on its website of its “Crisis Room” in Houston, Texas. Apparently, some of the television screens depicted in the photo in question had images of underwater cleanup efforts superimposed over other images, thanks to the magic of Photoshop.

BP apologized and implicated one of its photographers, but apologies did not mitigate the damage done. It was one more weight to tip the balance that cost the CEO his position with BP. The incident further depleted an asset that BP desperately needed to be accumulating in volumes. That asset is integrity. Integrity is critical to the survival of any company, not just BP. Relinquish integrity and you cut off the blood supply that allows a company to thrive. continue

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