Category Archives: Education

Energy =Life, That is, Life as We Enjoy it

On a pro-rated basis, each American uses about 300 million Btus per year of primary energy. This has been steady for decades. 79% of the energy we depend on each day is from fossil fuels and another 8% from nuclear, thus if we include nuclear as conventional, then 87% of the energy we depend on is from Conventional fuels.

300 million Btu/year/Person

I have written before about the energy use per person for U.S. citizens being between 300 and 330 million Btus per year. The latest EIA Monthly Energy Report shows 293 million Btus per capita. I rounded up to 300 million Btus /Capita/year. When the recession is over, we will again exceed 300.

Most of this energy which we depend on for everything we do, is provided by conventional energy. The latest pie chart of primary energy sources from the EIA is shown below.

Many government officials contend that the best path to energy independence is through the use of renewable energy and in particular, they specify wind and solar. As has been reported before, wind and solar after many years of subsidies have produced less than 5% of America’s total primary energy. All energy use considered the per Capita use comes out to about 300 million Btus per person, per year. This is about 822,000 Btu’s per day, per person. Last spring I gave a presentation to our local Hilton Head Island Middle School students. One example I showed was how each of us in the room could use 822,000 Btu’s each day. I prepared the graphic below, which I attempted to make understandable for 8th Graders. Perhaps it is simple and easy to understand that even a Washington bureaucrat could understand? The folks making energy policy in Washington, in my opinion, do not understand how important conventional energy is to our way of life? Here below is my attempt to explain how using a million Btus/day is very reasonable for the average citizen.

Dick Storm Middle School Presentation on Energy & Electricity Generation, March 2022

For those of us middle class folks that have lived the American Dream to enjoy a very comfortable life, it is not hard to imagine using a million Btus each day with the various forms of energy depicted above. Energy used on our behalf goes beyond what we personally use. The pro-rated energy use per Capita (as recorded by the DOE) includes Industrial manufacturing, Military Defense, government, commercial, fertilizer production, food production and shipping transportation uses. Energy does in fact provide for our high quality of life. Perhaps it would be helpful to compare our energy use to the people of other countries. Here below is such a comparison.

Sources: Dick Storm Middle School Energy Presentation, BP, ExxonMobil, World Bank, Our World in Data
Dick Storm Middle School Presentation on Energy & Electricity, March 2022

Flows of Total U.S. Primary Energy

For anyone who has seen my posts before you will know that I am very enamored with the simple yet clear illustration of U.S. Energy Sources and flows provided by the Department of Energy’s LLNL. This chart shows all major sources of energy which includes renewables and illustrates the quantities of each produced and used by the thickness of the flow lines.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Energy Flows, 2021:


Yours very truly,

Dick Storm, August 21, 2022

Excellent references for further research and information:

  1. Donn Dears, The Politics of Energy, Part 1: 
  2. Donn Dears, The Politics of Energy, Part 2: :
  3. IEA Energy and Food Production:
  4. Russia overtakes Saudi Arabia as World’s largest oil supplier, June 20, 2022 Bloomberg:
  5. China-Russian Energy Deal, February 2022:
  6. International Energy Association, Energy Report, Exec. Summary 2021:
  7. NERC Warning of Blackout Risk:
  8. NERC 2022 State of Reliability Report, July 6, 2022:
  9. North American Electric Reliability Corporation December 2021 Report:
  10. U.S. Grid Monitor, Real Time Bulk Power across U.S. :
  11. WSJ June 18, 2022, West Risks Blackouts From Drought and loss of Hydroelectric Capacity:
  12. Reuters, China Buying Russian Fuel: The Guardian (UK) China’s Premier Calls For More Coal Plants, June 24, 2022: 
  13. China buying Russian oil, gas and coal, Reuters:
  14. China Coal Consumption is higher than all the rest of the world together, NS Energy Feb. 2020:
  15. BP Statistical Review 2021 (Report released July 2022):
  16. The United Nations and Policies of Decarbonization are a higher priority than Feeding the World’s poor and World Peace:
  17. POWER Mag, Article on HELE Plants 2018:
  18. World Nuclear Assoc. Small Modular Reactors:
  19. Liberty Energy, Bettering Human Lives, ESG Report 2022:
  20. World Coal Assoc. : The next four articles are from Dr. George Holliday and son Bill Holliday’s Environmental Newsletter August 21, 2022:
  21. Welfare in the 21st century: Increasing development, reducing inequality, the impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies Bjorn Lomborg August 2022:
  22. Continental Resources Chairman and founder Harold Hamm detailed on Monday (Mayc2022) what he believes is behind the record prices Americans are facing at the pump, arguing that the Biden administration’s “failed policies on energy are not working.
  23. Heating the Oceans: By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)An issue with addressing how the earth cools is the mental concept of time. According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the earth is continuously emitting infrared energy depending on temperature. Some atmospheric gases, greenhouse gases, continuously interfere with the release of this energy to space in specific wavenumbers (number of wavelengths per centimeter, sometimes called frequency). In clear skies near the surface, most of the gases are well mixed except for water vapor, which varies significantly by region. :
  24. The Modern World Can’t Exist Without These Four Ingredients,  They All Require Fossil Fuels, Vaclav Smil

Pillars of Modern Civilization: All Dependent on Energy


Food Supply, Ammonia, Steel, Plastics and Concrete

This is my personal opinion. My attempt to show how the policies of environmental extremists, some who hold elected office & some who have high Bureaucratic offices have placed America on a perilous path of energy insecurity. These are my personal opinions and they are not related with any other company or organization with which I am a part of or have ever been a part of. I have used references that I have checked and believe to be totally accurate. Many of the references used are listed at the end of this post for further substantiation of my opinions.


The importance of energy is well known by engineers involved in the energy production and electric generation industries. Energy is essential to power our economy, high quality of life, freedom of travel, comforts and conveniences.  Also, food production and distribution are impacted by rising energy costs. The MSM has not reported much on the impact of the rising cost of energy to food price excalations. I will here.

Energy engineers know the importance of energy. The general public, not so much, they have been indoctrinated into hating carbon by effective scare tactics of the U.N., misguided Politicians, the WEF, Entertainment personalities, Environmental Extremists and the MSM. 

According to the EIA, 79% of our total primary energy in 2021 was provided by fossil fuels. When nuclear power is included as a form of conventional energy, then over 87% of the energy we depend on is from conventional fuels. So, let’s think about important materials and crops that support our high quality of life, including more than adequate food. Energy is essential to produce the materials we need as well as the abundance of food that Americans are Blessed with.

Affordable, Abundant, Reliable Energy is Essential to Power Life as We Know It

Meanwhile, policy makers in Washington and all across the U.S. are changing energy policies to fit a green agenda of attempting to abolish fossil fuels. As with the general public, the politicians do not understand the importance of conventional, affordable energy. If fossil fuels were eliminated our society would literally return to life as it was in the 19th century. Drake’s first oil well in 1859 saved the whales by beginning the use of kerosene to replace whale oil for illumination. Then in the 1880’s came the “end of night” with light bulbs and the introduction of central station power generation with  Edison’s Pearl Street Power Generation Station as one of the first in the world. Fossil fuels built the American way of life and our economy since then and we continue to be dependent on them. No amount of environmental or engineering fiction is going to change the needed sources of energy for the next few decades.

A Reminder of Energy History

I would like to focus this post on the importance of energy and especially fossil fuels to provide essential materials and food for people of the world. Oil did save the whales (true) with Drake’s first oil well and Standard Oil’s kerosene production. Then Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse’s successes in developing electricity, motors and illumination by about 1898. Now, let’s switch from energy to food production concerns in 1898.

The Relationship of Energy and Food

Interestingly, the Head of the British Scientific Society, William Crookes, gave a sobering talk in 1898 to state that the planet can only support a total population of about two billion people. Why? Because there was not enough guano (sea bird droppings deposits on islands) and imported Chilean nitrate fertilizer to grow crops to support a growing world population over about 2 billion.  This is well documented in the book, “The Alchemy of Air” as well as books by Vaclav Smil. 

Vaclav Smil is a well-respected energy expert and he has written dozens of books centered on the topic of energy. His latest book is, “How the World Really Works”. I borrowed part of the title of this post from his chapter #4 “Understanding Our Material World”.

Vaclav Smil Book Cover 2022, Viking

The four materials that Smil has selected are Ammonia, Plastics, Steel and Concrete. These are all dependent on vast quantities of energy to produce and yes, we all depend on them for our everyday lives. Let’s start with Ammonia.

Ammonia, A Pre-Requisite to Feeding the World

An interesting book by Thomas Hager, “The Alchemy of Air” chronicles the development of the Haber-Bosch process. The story of how Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch invented and developed the process for producing synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. The book starts out by reminding us of the concern by the head of the British Academy of Sciences, William Crookes in 1898 that the earth will not be able to support a population growing above about 2 billion people, because there simply is not enough fertilizer from natural sources such as guano, manure or Chilean Nitrate to fertilize the world’s crops in sufficient quantity to feed a growing world population. Thus, the prospect of famine was real. That was 1898 and within ten years Fritz Haber a Jewish chemist, living in Germany, invented the process to create ammonia from natural gas and air. Later, Haber teamed up with Carl Bosch then a senior manager at BASF and together the developed and commercialized the Haber-Bosch process for creating ammonia. Fast forward to 1972 and President Nixon’s first trip to China to open doors for trade. What did China want first? They wanted ammonia plants to produce fertilizer after millions(1) of Chinese had died of starvation during Mao Tse Tung’s “Great Leap Forward” of failed central control. According to Smil, China’s first trade deal after Nixon’s visit was to purchase 13 ammonia plants from M.W. Kellogg of Texas. That was the only way that China could produce sufficient food to feed their growing population. Today, as with many other products, China produces more ammonia than any other country.

50% of the World’s People Could Not Exist Without Ammonia

(Smil states on page 83)  “I hasten to add that 50% of humanity dependent on ammonia is not an immutable approximation. Given prevailing diets and farming practices, synthetic nitrogen feeds half of humanity—-or, everything else being equal, half of the world’s population could not be sustained without synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers”. 


Of course, the point is, food production is related to fertilizer production and fertilizer production depends on natural gas  as a feedstock. About 1.2% of the world’s total primary energy is used for fertilizer and about 3-5% of food production depends on fossil fuels. Thus, Vaclav Smil picked energy intensive Ammonia as the number one material of the four materials that are (his ranking) pillars of modern civilization. 

The Cost of Energy for Food Production & Distribution is About 50%

The IEA published a chart to show the cost components of energy for nine selected crops. The chart is copied below.  Note that total energy cost for the nine selected crops range from a low of about 40% for cotton to almost 60% for wheat and sorghum, over 50% for corn. The cost of production for all food crops in the U.S. is about 50%. Most of this fuel is from fossil fuels. Energy is important for all of the people of the world and reasonable cost, abundant energy is crucially important for crop production and processing. Escalating energy costs will increase the costs of food and in some cases, reduce the quantity of food production due to limited fertilizer (ammonia based) availability. The fuel for Diesel tractors and food processing is significant. The final point: Solar and Wind cannot create fertilizer and both are impossible in the near term to power tractors and intercity or Global transportation.

IEA Report

Sources of World Energy about 86.25% Conventional Fuels, oil, gas, coal and nuclear

From BP-Statistical Review of World Energy Consumption:

Oil                                184.21 EJ        31%

Natural Gas                  145.35 EJ 24%

Coal                             160.10 EJ 27%

Nuclear                        25.31 EJ 4%

Hydro-Electricity         40.26 EJ  7%

Renewables                  39.91 EJ 7%

Total Primary Energy  595.15 Exajoules 

World Consumption of Primary Energy-BP Statistical Review-2022

BP 2022 Statistical Energy Review:

The world’s energy consumption does inrease year after year, except during the Pandemic of 2020 as can be seen on BP’s graph above. If we extrapolate and expand the forecast to 2050, then increased energy will be required for the estimated 9 Billion world population that is expected in 2050. For now, 86% of the world’s energy and 87.4% of the United States Energy is provided by conventional fuels of oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear fuels. Solar and wind provide only about 7% of the world’s primary energy and less than 5% of the United States Energy for 2021. The U.S. energy flow chart is shown below:

Energy Flow Chart for United States, 2021

   Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: TOTAL PRIMARY ENERGY FLOW CHART 2021:

No! We Cannot Electrify Everything!

Government officials for the last 18 months have been scolding and attempting to scare the general public into getting rid of our internal combustion engines and buy EV’s. Claiming we need to “Decarbonize our society”. In essence, they are literally saying, “Electrify Everything”. In fact, I did see at least one article on electrify everything. The two charts above which show  the reality of the energy needs of the United States and the world, should help explain: NO, We Cannot Electrify Everything! For sure, plastics, concrete, steel, air transportation, aluminum and fertilizer cannot be produced from windmills and solar panels. I contributed to an article by Hayden Ludwig of the Capital Research Center in December 2021. Our goal was to try to set the record straight on “No, We Cannot Electrify Everything”.

Let’s get back to the relationship of energy and food production. Fertilizer production for a start, uses about 1.2% of the world’s total primary energy. As mentioned above, literally half the world’s population would suffer famine if ammonia fertilizer production was stopped. 

Fertilizer and Food

The IEA chart above showed the energy cost component for food production. Much of the energy used is natural gas for fertilizer production. Here below are some fertilizer facts to consider. This reference is for the year 2010 and this is the most recent document I could find. I think it is reasonable to estimate that the 1.2% energy use for fertilizer production has tracked about the same trend for the last twelve years as the world population has grown and the nutrition for the people of the world has generally improved.

From Fertilizer Facts. About 1.2% of the World’s Total Primary Energy is Used to Produce Ammonia: 

Fertilizer Facts, Ammonia and Energy use, 2010:

Energy, The Pre-Requisite for a High HDI (Human Development Index)

Here are three illustrations to show the importance of energy for both improved HMI (Human Development Index) and Economic Prosperity: 

The first chart below is from a Power-Point presentation I prepared in 2016 for a course on energy and power generation at Williamson College of the Trades. This clearly shows the relationship of energy and economic prosperity as well as the relationship of energy to HMI.

Williamson College of The Trades-Energy and Electricity Generation Short Course 2017, by author; Charts from ExxonMobil, World Bank, United Nations and Our World in Data websites

Another chart by ExxonMobil’s Energy Outlook in 2017, also captures the relationship of energy, HMI and economic prosperity. As quality of life (including adequate nutrition) goes up, so does the demand for energy.

ExxonMobil-Energy Outlook, 2016

The final chart is the NASA composite photo entitled, “The Earth at Night”. This shows the earth’s illumination from space and the photo clearly identifies the countries that have a higher standard of living (HMI) and that tend to use more energy to provide their higher quality of life. 



The modern world’s people need food, transportation, indoor cooking, refrigeration, materials for manufacturing and construction, manufactured products and much more. Over 86% of the world’s energy to provide crucially important materials, travel, shipping, industrial output, heating and airconditioning comes from conventional fuels. This includes fossil fuels of oil, natural gas & coal. When nuclear is included as a conventional fuel, then the total primary energy from conventional fuels is about 87% for the U.S.A. 

  • The abolishment of fossil fuels may be possible someday, but in my opinion and observations, not until far beyond 2050. 
  • Fertilizer and food production use between 3 and 5% of the world’s total primary energy. Much of this is required to come from fossil fuels.
  • Aircraft with batteries or hydrogen fuel may in fact be possible, someday. However, replacing the fleet presently flying of jet fuel powered Boeing and Airbus planes is not possible by 2050 and there are many of us that would prefer the proven safety of flying jets powered by jet fuel.
  • Steel made from hydrogen is possible, but not at a competitive cost with coke. China produces over 50% of the world’s steel now and they will continue to use the lowest cost production methods.
  • Aluminum is a very important metal for aircraft, automobiles and many other utilitarian uses. Aluminum uses the most electricity of all metals for production.  Smelting alone uses about 5 kWh per pound and this is in addition to Bauxite refining, transportation, rolling and forming. Reasonable cost, reliable and abundant electricity is required to produce aluminum. China produces over 50% of the world’s aluminum also.
  • Plastics and synthetic fibers are used in everything we depend on through the day. Auto parts are largely plastic, so are many utility pipes. Many textiles are based on fibers from oil or natural gas.
  • The government “War on Carbon” is destroying America. It is contributing to inflation and shortages of critical materials that we depend on.
  • The United Nations, the World Economic Forum, The Main Stream Press, Entertainment is interested in power and influence over the citizens of the U.S. It is not about climate
  • Environmental Extremist organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund (and many more) have extensive funding of Billions of dollars obtained from Bloomberg, Bezos and others that is tax exempt and used against the best interests of American citizens. 
  • The overall “War on Carbon” is making energy and electricity prices higher in the U.S. This makes America less competitive with China and it increases the job losses here and increased off-shoring of manufacturing
  • America does not have an “Energy Policy” per se’. America has an a “Hate Carbon Policy” that has progressed far enough to create an energy crisis, possible Rolling Blackouts, Brownouts and excalating food prices.

I personally do not understand why many otherwise Patriotic & respected American supporters of Free Markets and Capitalism would support and contribute to extremist organizations that are determined to weaken our country and world food supply.


Dick Storm, July 22, 2022

References and for further reading on the topics of Energy and Food Production:

  1. Heritage Foundation, Mao Zedong’s Mass Murder, through his Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward:
  2. “How the World Really Works”, by Vaclav Smil, Viking, 2022
  3. “How the Energy Crisis is Exacerbating the Food Crisis”, IEA June 2022:
  4. Rising Fertilizer Cost Impact on Food Prices, June 2022 FAS/USDA:
  5. Fertilizer Facts, Ammonia and Energy use, 2010:
  6. BP 2022 Statistical Energy Review:
  8. 8.  S&P Global Natural Gas Use for Fertilizer production, surging natural gas prices, cause fertilizer costs to soar, Jan 19, 2022:   
  9.  Improving Lives with Fertilizer:
  11. Paul Driessen list of Billionaire Climate Activists:
  12. Bloomberg Beyond Carbon:
  13. Sierra Club, Beyond Coal website:
  14. Sierra Club Success stories:
  15. Influence watch, Sierra Club:
  16. WSJ Article on Sri Lanka “Green Revolution” July 14, 2022:
  17. The Intercept, Green Terrorism:
  18. Germany’s Nuclear Power Implosion July 2022:
  19. EIA Graph of 79% Fossil Fuels in 2021, JULY 7, 2022:
  20. IEA Energy Exacerbating Food Crisis, June 14, 2022:  
  22. CRC-Green Watch, “Creatures from the Green Lagoon”:
  23. CRC Magazine, December 2021, Featuring Forced Electrification, War on Consumers” starting on page 13:
  24.  CRC-Green Watch, “Creatures from the Green Lagoon”:
  25. CRC Magazine, December 2021, Featuring Forced Electrification, War on Consumers” starting on page 13:
  26. Australia Energy Crisis July 1, 2022:
  27. Professor Judith Curry July 15, 2022:
  28. Cooler Heads, July 15, 2022: Excellent References of Gina McCarthy and other EPA “War on Coal” personalities:
  29. Shelly Moore Capito Opinion in WVA “Intelligencer” Newspaper, July 2022:
  30. EIA U.S. Oil & Gas Energy Reserves Y/E 2020:
  31. World Nuclear Organization:
  32. Biden, U.S. asks for 4.3 Billion to wean off Russian Nuclear Fuel :
  33. High Natural Gas Prices Cause Rise in Fertilizer and Food Prices, Dec. 16, 2021:
  35. EPA allows more ethanol in gasoline April 2022:
  36. Ukraine war puts pressure on Global Food Supply, WSJ April 2022:
  37. Ukraine-Russia War and Food Supplies, WSJ,June 28, 2022:
  38. Peace Through Strength & Free Markets are what built America, Phil Gramm and Mike Solon, March 2, 2022:

Mentoring the Middle School Students

Helping our youth to understand the importance of energy and electricity to energize our good lives

Why Should We Invest Time with the Public School Students?

From a personal viewpoint, I have always considered it a high priority to do my best to support energy education of the public and especially our public school students. A great group to start with if we wish to improve the general public’s understanding of the importance of energy. Perhaps if we start with the youth, they will educate their parents on the facts; That conventional sources comprise about 90% of the total energy that makes our high quality of life possible. By conventional, I mean, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Coal and Hydroelectric.

All of us who have been employed in the supply chain of producing energy understand the rarity of energy savvy people we meet who are not or have not been closely involved with our industry. So, when an opportunity to present a short class on energy and electricity generation came up at our local Middle School, I accepted the invitation. Here are some of the slides I will use for this group of 8th Graders.

The general public’s knowledge of energy and it’s importance seems to be limited to gasoline prices. When in a social setting and I discuss the U.S. need for 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy and where it comes from, most people’s eyes glaze over and are not very interested. However, with the Russia-Ukraine war, it seems folks are more interested now than they were a few months ago. Perhaps timely to give a course on energy fundamentals.

Each American uses about 800,000 to 1 million Btu’s every day

Our Lifestyles Depend on Energy

How did I come up with 800,000 – 1,000,000 Btu’s per person, per day? Here is how: America uses right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually. If 100 Quadrillion (15 zeros) is divided by the population of the U.S.A. of about 330 million people, the result is about 303 million Btu’s per person. This is the average energy use for each of us. Then, divide 303 million by 365 days per year and it is 830,000 Btu’s per day. The above illustration shows how we may use our portion of fuels to consume our share of the Nation’s energy. If we are traveling by car for an interstate trip, we can easily use more than a million Btu’s in a day. Likewise, ordering a large shipment of furniture or heavy goods from Amazon or other on-line Retailer will require energy to be used on our behalf to deliver our products to the door. You get the picture.

Another way to illustrate 300-330 million Btu’s is to show the equivalence in barrels of gasoline, Diesel Fuel, propane or coal. Also, nuclear. This is shown below.

Annual Equivalent Per Capita Energy Use of 300-330 Million Btu’s/person

So Where Did You Come up with 100 Quadrillion Btu’s?

The U.S. Department of Energy has been measuring, calculating and reporting total primary energy use for decades. I have been watching this and America’s energy use has held right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s +/- 10%, for the last twenty years or so. Below is the Sankey diagram which shows 2019 total primary energy flows. The sources are on the left and uses are on the right. This is how the breakdown of uses was established: 37% electricity generation, 28.1% transportation, 26.4% Industrial, 11.4% Residential and 9.41% Commercial.

I stated above that the U.S. has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s for decades. The chart below published by the EIA (Energy Information Administration) shows the total energy used 1950 to 2019. The differences in “Production and Consumption” are imports. As of December 2020, America produced as much energy as we consumed. Again, right at 100 quadrillion Btu’s.

Let’s Drill Down to See Where the Energy Is Used in SC to Generate Electricity

Currently and at least through 2030, over 50% of South Carolina’s electricity will come from nuclear power generation.

S.C. has four large nuclear power plants with a total of seven generating units. Here is a map of where they are located.

The second largest source of our electricity is natural gas fuel. This is burned very efficiently in power plants such as this. The newest natural gas generating plants can obtain thermal efficiencies over 60%.

Coal fuel was over 50% of Santee-Cooper’s electric generation about ten years ago. Since then, natural gas fuel became lower in cost and abundant and has replaced much of the coal power generation. However, today natural gas prices are increasing and it is likely that coal fuel will be more economical to generate our electricity not generated by nuclear and renewables.

The Santee-Cooper coal plants that provide electricity to our local electricity distributor, Palmetto Electric Co-Op are shown below.

Santee-Cooper Coal Plants

Isn’t Most of Our Power Provided by Solar, Wind and Hydro-Electric?

No! That is a popular misconception. Even the Wall Street Journal has misled people into thinking that most of our electricity is generated by renewables (wind, solar and hydro). The data above show the true facts of the sources of our electricity and total energy.

Note that of our total energy in 2019, wind and solar together only provided about 3.8% of America’s total energy. The 96.2% was provided by conventional forms of energy such as nuclear, natural gas, coal and hydro-electric. The WSJ Headline is accurate in stating that 90% of the New Electricity Generation in 2020 came from Renewables. That is because they used “Nameplate Capacity” for the Renewables and the simple fact that the “Old coal, Nuclear, Coal and Hydroelectric” plants are very robust, reliable and have long lives when properly maintained.

The Santee-Cooper Pinnopolis Dam, Hydro-Electric plant is shown above. When I use the term “Old Hydroelectric plants”, this is where I was coming from. If you look at “Total Renewables Energy” on the Sankey diagram above, you will see that most of the renewable generation is from old hydroelectric plants. In 2019 that was about 2.5% of our total primary energy as compared to 1.04% solar.

These are the hydro plants operated by Santee-Cooper. Located about 100 miles north of Hilton Head near Moncks Corner, SC.


Much is written in the news about solar and many people are of the impression that solar is a major source of Bulk Electric generation. The fact is that yes, much money is being invested in solar but the total generation is very small when compared to nuclear, gas and coal. Here below is a much hyped solar farm on the east side of I-95 about 50 miles north of Hilton Head. It is about 15 acres and during a bright sunny day will produce about 3.5 MW.

By the way, if 3.5 MW seems like a lot of electric power consider that on a hot summer day Hilton Head Island uses about 180 MW during peak Demand.

Palmetto Electric Co-Op distributes electricity on Hilton Head Island. They obtain most of their Bulk Power wholesale from Santee-Cooper which is owned by the state of SC. Generation capacity of Santee-Cooper power plants is listed below. Note, most generation capacity is coal, nuclear and natural gas.

Electricity is Secondary Energy and uses about 37% of America’s total Primary Energy. The other 63% of Energy is Important to Fuel Our High Quality Lives!

The Federal government, at this point in time, is stating and making policies that would “Electrify Everything”. Especially transportation. Most large automobile manufacturers have stated that they plan to phase out the Internal Combustion Engine by 2035. That is only 13 years into the future.

Think about the chart above. Yes, 96% of our Primary Energy comes from conventional sources. (I consider nuclear, coal, gas, biomass and hydroelectric all conventional sources) The highest percentage of primary energy is from petroleum. America uses about 20 million barrels per day of oil. To illustrate what 20 million barrels per day looks like, take a look at the photo below. This is a picture of me standing in front of a portion of the above ground Aleyeska pipeline in Alaska. It is above ground because of passing through frozen tundra and the heated oil must be above ground for environmental and pipeline integrity concerns. This pipeline is capable of moving about 2 million barrels of oil per day. So, to imagine the quantity of oil that America uses, picture 10 of these pipelines side by side. Yes, 10 pipelines like this. At 42 gallons per barrel, that is a lot of oil.(2)

Most rimary energy is used in “Heat Engines” that convert heat energy to motive force. Another point to imagine, is if the about 275 million light trucks and cars registered in the U.S. were converted to EV’s…..This could create Demand for an enormous amount of electricity. However, in some cases the electricity needs to be “Dispatchable” when it is needed, such as in charging EV’s on a road trip. In other cases such as long range aircraft and ship propulsion, electricity is not an option with current technology. Fossil Fuels are important to fuel our lives.

Heat Energy from fuels is enormous. Just a reminder of the definition of a “Horsepower” and a BTU (British Thermal Unit).

A horsepower is equivalent to the work accomplished by lifting a weight of 550 pounds in one second or 33,000 Foot pounds per minute. One BTU converted at 100% thermal efficiency to work is equivalent to 778 Foot pounds. A gallon of gasoline contains between 115,000 and 125,000 Btu’s. So one gallon of gasoline is worth over 90 million foot pounds of work.

Perhaps a reminder of agricultural productivity is timely. At the turn of the 20th Century, about 40% of our population was required to work on the farms to feed our nation. Then, we changed from muscle power of animals to mechanized farming, using tractors. The work of a team of horses could be accomplished with a single gasoline powered tractor.

A reminder from U.S. history…..Our Economy became the largest in the world as America switched from muscle power of draft animals and humans to mechanization powered by fossil fuels.

Summary and Conclusions

  • Energy and Economic Prosperity are inter-related
  • America has used about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for decades and to preserve our high quality of life, will continue to require 100 Quadrillion+ Btu’s each year into the future
  • Fossil fuels provide about 80% of our total primary energy
  • Conventional forms of energy, including Gas, Nuclear, Coal and old Hydroelectric plants, provide over 90% of our primary energy
  • The Mainstream News, Entertainment and Misguided Politicians are wrong to attack fossil fuels. Donn Dears book(4) Net Zero Carbon, Climate Policies Destroying America” lays out facts and policies to support the title

When I am in the classroom, I will not discuss the politics of “Climate Change”, only the facts on energy and electricity. I hope all of my friends employed in energy industries do likewise to attempt to set the record straight on the importance of energy and electricity.

Yours very truly,

Dick Storm, March 9, 2022

References for further reading and research:

  1. Dick Storm USCB-OLLI Courses, Energy and Electricity, History of Energy and Electricity and the Future of Energy and Electricity. The four parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity” are on my website:
  2. Global Energy Monitor, Alaska Pipeline facts:
  3. Dick Storm’s views on Electrify Everything, Capital Research Center, Nov. 2021:
  4. Net Zero Carbon, The Climate Policy Destroying America” by Donn Dears. Available on Amazon
  5. Alabama Power, Miller Steam Plant, An intersting video of how a large coal plant works:
  6. A more factual asessment of Sea Level Rise to counter the exaggerations by movies on Climate Catastrophe’s, about 1.36 ft/100 years: and WUWT Sea Level Rise:
  7. National News on Nuclear Power needed for the future carbon free generation January 23, 2022:  

History of Energy and Electricity Generation Part 2: The Golden Age of Nuclear, Once Proclaimed to be “Too Cheap to Meter” 1955-2010

The purpose of this post is to show the progress of creating America’s huge Grid, made up of Dispatchable Power from coal, nuclear, gas and oil fuels from 1955 through 2010. Also during this time, the EPA came to be and began regulating true pollutants from power generation facilities. America’s designers, engineers and manufacturers of electric generating equipment rose to meet the challenge and provided energy to expand the American economy while at the same time cleaned our air. Nuclear Power grew to be about 20% of our total electricity generation during this 55 years. These years were special for me, because they include my becoming interested in power generation in 1959 as a Freshman at Williamson and then joining the B&W Nuclear and Special Projects Group in the 1960’s when nuclear was believed to be the future of electricity generation.

The First Pressurized Water Reactor, Nuclear Steam System

It was 1954 and the Nautilus, the first Nuclear submarine ever built was launched. The pressurized water nuclear steam system was a prototype for future Navy as well as commercial applications.

USS Nautilus, First Nuclear Powered Submarine, Launched January 1954
From Babcock & Wilcox, “Steam, It’s Generation and Use” 41st Edition

“President Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to solve “the fearful atomic dilemma” by finding some way by which “the miraculous inventiveness of man” would not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. In his “Atoms for Peace” speech before the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower sought to solve this terrible problem by suggesting a means to transform the atom from a scourge into a benefit for mankind. Although not as well-known as his warning about the “military industrial complex,” voiced later in his farewell radio and television address to the American people, President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech embodied his most important nuclear initiative as President”. (2)

The Research and Development into peaceful use of atomic energy continued on “Atoms for Peace”. The partnership of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the brilliant minds of employees from the American companies; Westinghouse Electric, General-Electric, Babcock & Wilcox, Combustion Engineering, Allis-Chalmers and other fine U.S. companies brought enormous advancements. In just a few years there was great progress in atomic physics, nuclear safety, ASME Codes for Pressure Vessel Design, Welding, Non-Destructive testing of welded joints and material science. The future of nuclear power looked extremely bright. 

So did efficient coal power generation. I love this advertisement (below) for B&W, then a Fortune 500 company (#134 in 1960) and builder of many of the U.S. Navy’s Boilers that helped win two world wars. B&W also built the pressure vessels for the reactors and steam generators used in the Nautilus and many of the commercial nuclear steam systems to follow. Including Duke Energy’s highly successful three Unit Oconee Station which the first unit began commercial operation in 1973.

Nuclear Steam Systems were a logical extension for B&W and Combustion Engineering Company to move into after many decades of building Fossil Steam Systems. I have referred to the importance of Heat-Engines often during my career. Perhaps that is from recollections of working for B&W in the 1960’s. Below is a copy of a B&W ad from 1954:

Part 2 of the History of Energy and Electricity Generation from my viewpoint. Taken from my course at USCB-OLLI
Copy of advertisement in Fortune Magazine about 1954

In 1954 and the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Lewis Strauss in his extreme enthusiasm for commercial nuclear power generation, coined the phrase….”Too Cheap to Meter”…..That was in 1954 and of course there was a building boom of nuclear power plants from 1960 to 1990. Over 100 nuclear steam systems were put into operation between 1970 and 1990. Here are the 93 that are still operating:

From Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website January 2022

Yes, Nuclear Power has been a very good invention for America. Although thousands of employees made nuclear steam systems possible, the primary credit for this gift to Humankind should go to one man, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, Father of the U.S. Navy Nuclear Fleet and Father of Commercial Nuclear Steam Systems.(8)

From Dick Storm Presentation of Energy and Electricity, USCB-OLLI 2021
Turkey Point Unit 3 Nuclear Unit at Florida Power and Light Company went Commercial 1972

The combination of new nuclear units plus ever more efficient and clean coal plants created electric growth with electricity costs amongst the lowest in the world.

This was good for world manufacturing competitiveness (especially good for energy intensive industries such as aluminum and steel manufacture) also good for reasonable household electric costs to power ever increasing labor saving household appliances.

Speaking of reasonable household electric costs and high quality of living. These ads for “Living Better Electrically” were common in the 1950’s to 70’s.

From Dick Storm, ASME Annual Meeting Presentation 2011, “Why Coal is Important

My state of South Carolina continues to enjoy reassonable cost, abundant and reliable power from Admiral Rickover’s invention. According to the EIA and NEI, over 55% of SC electricity is generated from nuclear power. I might add, these are “old nuclear plants” that have been well maintained, well run, proven and reliable. Several of these were started up in the 1970’s like Turkey Point and may have their licenses extended for 80 years. Amazingly robust and well built.

Top States for nuclear power generation in 2020 by NEI and EIA, Slide used in Dick Storm USCB-OLLI Course, 2021

The chart below is from the NRC website. As mentioned above, many of the very reliable and I might add, Dispatchable power generating nuclear power plants are aging and before they are shut down, it would be wise to plan, design and begin construction on the next generation of nuclear plants. Renewables such as wind and solar are not Dispatchable and electric battery storage is not yet feasible. These issues will be discussed in a future post. Suffice it to say for the time period 1950-1990 America had four very good decades of power generation advancements which resulted in an extremely reliable Grid providing some of the lowest cost electricity in the world.

From NRC Website

Energy, Economic Prosperity and Living with a High Human Development Index

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw clean coal and nuclear power together, provided about 70% of our electricity. America’s GDP pretty much followed the production and consumption of coal fuel. Coal and nuclear at the time were the most reasonable cost fuels to generate electricity.

From Dick Storm Presentation to ASME Annual Meeting 2011,, “Why Coal is Important”, Dallas, TX

The U.S.A. has used about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for many years. Below is a copy of the EIA Total Energy Use by Fuels from 2008. This is getting ahead of 1990 but for reference, the Total Energy Use of America has held very close to 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year for many years. The chart below shows consumption of 94.58 Quadrillion Btu’s in 2008. This reduction in energy demand was the result of the Financial crisis of 2008.

As we move forward keep this in mind. From 1950-1990 the fuel mix was changing. Thsese changes had to do with cost of fuel, pollution and availability. But for the last two decades America has used a total of about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s +/- 10 per year. This includes electricity, transportation, Industrial production, heating, and cooling. The chart reads from left to right with the fuel sources on the left and energy flows to the right.

From Dick Storm ASME Presentation, 2011, Why Coal is Important

The 1970’s Were Good Years of Progress…. But Not Perfect

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began in 1970 under the Nixon Administration. Amongst the first pollutants to be regulated, was sulphur and particulate emissions. The trend of the six major pollutants has been downward every since 1970.

The six major pollutants that were significantly reduced during this time period are: Particulates, Sulfur, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Ground level Ozone & Oxides of Nitrogen.

The first steps the EPA took to regulate a path for cleaner air was to regulate particulates and sulfur. Some electric Utilities immediately (1970-71) switched from coal fuel firing in their boilers to oil fuel. This was when the fuel cost/million Btu’s of oil and coal were about the same, in 1972 that was about $0.50/million Btu. By switching to oil the switchover downtime was reduced and huge Capital cost of Electrostatic Precipitators avoided. I was working at Carolina Power and Light at that time and remember these times well.

The Neighboring Utility in Virginia, then (1973) VEPCO had switched much of it’s generation to oil fuel, so did Potomac Electric (PEPCO) and Philadelphia Electric and others to the north. They were dependent on the (at that time) reasonable cost, easier to control emissions oil fuel. Well, that was fine until the first Arab Oil Embargo in October 1973.

Arab Oil Embargo, 1973

I was a senior engineer working at Carolina Power and Light Compay’s Roxboro Generating Station. My job was a startup and test engineer for the coal fueled 720 MW, Unit #3 which began commercial operation during the summer. Many mechanical problems were needing to be sorted out and I had job security for the next several years.

The Arab Oil Embargo lasted about a year, 1973-74 and during this time, many Utilities purchased new coal generation capacity. Especially in the southern states where air-conditioning load in the summer and heat-pump load of the winter was growing rapidly. I remember year over year growth in the range of 10% increase in electric demand. Of course, manufacturing was strong back then too.

As time went on in the 1970’s more coal plants and more nuclear plants were started up. The future of clean, reliable Nuclear power looked great until……

Three Mile Island, 1979

The future of nuclear power had a serious setback in March 1979. Although no one was injured, this was pretty much the end of new nuclear steam system orders for U.S. Utilities. It took more than another decade to complete the 100 + nuclear steam systems that were on order. More strict Regulations by the NRC and more built in safety requirements ensured that nuclear power would not be “Too Cheap to Meter” in the U.S.A.

New Clean Coal Plants are Built

To meet the increasing Electricity Demand, and do so with Domestically sourced fuel, more large coal plants were built in the 1980’s. These however were nearly all equipped with Flue Gas Desulfurization and Particulate controls. Later in 1991 the EPA Clean Air Amendment was made into law and Oxides of Nitrogen were significantly reduced and more FGD equipment began being retrofitted on existing large coal plants that did not have FGD. Thus, the ever cleaner air as shown in the foregoing chart. Yes, the EPA was needed in 1970 and the Clean Air Ammendment of 1991 also has turned out to be beneficial.

EIA DATA, 2009 The Projection did not expect the Shale Gas Revolution

How The Public Perception of Coal Becomes Tarnished

During the Arab Oil Embargo not only did we have gasoline shortages and gas lines. But the electric Utilities also suffered financially due to the rapid increase in oil costs and with the ramp up in oil costs, so did the price of competitive fuels such as gas and coal. During this time of financial stress, the Utilities drastically reduced Operation and Maintenance Budgets. What was cut first? Tree trimming around high voltage transmission line, painting and maintenance costs such as these. These are expected during volatile times in business and can be recovered from.

The Worst Budget Cut

The worst budget cut, in my view, was the cutting of public education of “Living Better Electrically” and “Better Things for Better Living”. Back in the 1970’s there were Utility representatives that invested time in Public Schools to teach the girls about electric appliances and how to use them. The boy students learned how electricity was generated from coal, oil, gas and hydro-electric sources. There was advertizing on the radio and TV. Remember “Reddy Kilowatt”? Reddy Kilowatt was the lightening bolt stick figure mascot for the investor owned Electric Utilities. Between Reddy Kilowatt and a small army of Home Economics teachers from the Electric Utilities, American Citizens learned the importance of electricity and how it was generated. I personally remember learning that as a teenager in the 1950’s, and I was just an average student.

Reddy Kilowatt, The Mascot of The Investor Owned Electric Utilities Circa 1970

I gave a presentation to the American Coal Council membership in 2008 on how, in my view, the public perception of coal changed. Here below is the illustration that I used to show the change from pro-active Utility education of the Public to the taking over of this effort by the Environmental Movement. Believe me, I support clean air and clean water as much as anyone. In fact, I worked much of my career exerting my best efforts to reduce particulates, reduce NOx and improve efficiency of power plants. However, the Environmental Extremists took over shaping the Public’s Perception of coal following the Arab Oil Embargo and filling the void of public education left by the exit (regarding public education) of the Electric Utilities. Not all, but most Utilities management were enthusiastic about exiting the Public Schools and Public Education just as many that ran bus services were quick to exit that business as soon as the Regulators would allow them to quit. The chart below illustrates the enormous funding of the leftist Green organizations after 1970. The green groups funding helped to indoctrinate or shape public views against coal and carbon. Now the Green Extremist organizations literally have far more money to spend on public indoctrination than the private sector manufacturers. But, that is a topic for another day.

All Fuels are Important

The Total Energy Flows of the year 2007 are shown on the Sankey Diagram below. This is TOTAL Energy which includes Electricity, Industrial, Transportation, Commercial and Residential uses of energy. The changes of the percentages of each fuel change with the economics of producing the fuels. Such as discussed above when the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74 caused oil prices to rise sharply in 1974 and many power generation plants were switched back to coal from oil. We should keep this in mind as the government pushes us toward Electric Vehicles in the future. In my view, we will need over 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually to support our high quality of life. So, as electricity is substituted for gasoline or Diesel fuel, more electricity generation will be required which more than likely will come from conventional sources of gas, nuclear, coal & hydro-electric. The chart below is 2007. In part 3 I will include more recent Sankey Diagrams of Total Energy Flows.

This will conclude Part 2 of this series on the History of Energy and Electricity Generation in the U.S.A. The next section will cover 2005-2022.


  1. Projections into the future are simply, projections. We can learn from our recent energy history of nuclear being thought to be, “Too Cheap to Meter” and the end of coal just a few years away. In the 1960’s the future of coal was proclaimed Dead….. However during this current cold weather in the U.S. Coal Power is depended on for a large percentage of electricity generation. Just check
  2. Likewise, the EIA projection published in 2009 showing an increase in coal going forward did not take into account the Shale Gas Revolution made possible by Directional Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing. The coal consumption dropped off primarily due to the reduction in cost of the newly abundant Domestic natural gas that became available about 2012. Low natural gas prices were helpful for those opponents of coal fuel.
  3. Reasonable cost energy is required to fuel a thriving Economy. Note the drop in energy use after the 2008 Financial Crisis.
  4. Industrial output is particularly linked to reasonable cost, abundant and reliable energy. Especially primary metals like steel and aluminum.
  5. Net Zero Carbon is a disasterous Policy for the U.S. to follow unless a large number of new generation nuclear plants are deployed in the U.S. generation fleet.
  6. Nuclear, Coal, Gas, Oil, Thermal Biomass and Hydro-Electric are the only Dispatchable sources of electricity generation by today’s technology
  7. Reliable, Abundant, Reasonable cost and Dispatchable electric generation is required for a country to remain or to become competitive in the world with a manufacturing based economy. China has proved this over the last 20 years since joining the WTO
  8. America has burned coal and natural gas more responsibly and cleaner than any other country that uses Fossil Fuels for Bulk Power production in Gigawatt quantities
  9. The Net Zero Carbon Policy is a Disasterous path for our country to follow. We should learn from historical events of the past.
  10. My friend a Tinkerer reminded me of the old phrase, “When Tinkering, it is important to save all of the pieces” This old saying should be remembered by the politicians that are “Tinkering with America’s Energy Policy” and allowing reliable and needed coal plants to be shut down and demolished. This has even occurred with reliable nuclear plants. We should be preserving the power generation infra-structure that powers America’s economy and our life styles.

Dick Storm, January 19, 2022

Author’s note on the background and why I write on this Blog:

I said at the beginning this was a special time for me. Well, it was because my life-time career in power generation began in 1962 after graduation from Williamson. I joined Babcock & Wilcox’s Nuclear and Special Products Division in 1965 and worked as an assistant to the Project Manager for Navy PWR’s and on the Oconee Nuclear Steam System. I did not like the rigorous administrative paperwork required by the AEC at the time and many engineers were transferring into the Nuclear Division from the Fossil Power Generation Division, leaving many vacancies in PGD. So, I arranged a transfer to Results Engineering to work for one of the best Mentors ever, Silas Morse. The “Too Cheap to Meter” phrase regarding nuclear power was well known within the walls of B&W and as a 22 year old newby, I was strongly advised that coal plants will be shut down in a decade because nuclear is so clean, has such an extreme energy density and it is highly productive. I went anyway, vowing to study and learn all I could about coal power so that I could remain employed for my future career. It worked.

My stint at B&W provided travel to large Paper Mills from New England to Missoula, Montana, to run acceptance tests on the largest (then the largest steam plants were about 500 MW) coal and gas plants at Baltimore Gas & Electric, Houston Light & Power, Illinois Power, Ohio Edison and more.

Always wanting to be a startup engineer, in 1969 I left B&W to join Riley Stoker as a senior startup engineer at Tampa Electric’s Unit #6 at Gannon Station. Then off to participate in the startup of Riley’s first and only coal-fueled supercritical units at Wateree Station for SCE&G near Columbia, SC. In between, helped with acceptance testing at Santee-Cooper’s Jeferies coal plant in Monck’s Corner. Then back to Florida to startup new oil fueled units at the City of Lakeland and Jacksonville.

My big opportunity to get involved with a major Utility came in 1972 and I was assigned to be the lead Startup Engineer for the 420 MW dual fueled Sutton Unit #3. Then in January 1973 I joined Carolina Power and Light Company as a Senior Engineer in charge of the startup of the 720 MW Roxboro Unit #3. Great learning experiences including the Arab Oil Embargo and the “Wheeling” of Coal Generated Power from CP&L to Utilities in the north that had switched fuels from coal to oil and then were short on fuel with the oil embargo.

In 1977 I left my position, then as Operations Superintendent at CP&L’s Roxboro Plant, to join a newly formed small contractor, Flame Refractories, in Oakboro, NC. Flame was small, only a dozen or so total employees when I joined. The company grew and I started Flame Technical Servives. Flame grew to be a major Utility Specialty contractor with hundreds of employees. My Technical Services Department eventually grew to an average size of about 20 engineers and technicians and became well known all across the U.S.A. and Internationally. Some of the most interesting International trips began in 1978 when ALCOA hired us to correct some boiler problems at the Suriname Aluminum Company in Suriname, South America. Then later to Guinee in Africa, Jamaica, Spain and Australia.

In 1992 after 15 very interesting and growing years at Flame, I started Storm Engineering later to be folded into Storm Technologies, Inc. We continued solving large electric Utility Boiler problems for the next twenty years that I was President of Storm Technologies. Storm Technologies earned a good reputation for solving difficult coal plant problems and we traveled all around the world to work at plants in South America, Asia, Oceana, Africa, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and of course, all across the U.S.A. and Canada. During these travels is when the relationship of Energy and Economic Prosperity became apparent to me. Where we traveled to help sort out problems in coal plants around the world, there was and remains, a higher quality of life. The UN calls it “Human Development Index”. I saw the affects of reasonable cost, reliable energy on the improving quality of life in Developing countries.

I retired from active involvement at Storm Technologies in 2012 when my son Danny became President.

Since then, I have done my best to give back by teaching the importance of power generation and wise use of resources for power generation. I was on the Williamson College of the Trades Board until 2019 where I championed the modernization and upgrades to the Energy Island used for power generation and instructional purposes at the College. Also, have volunteered to teach courses on Energy and Electricity Generation at schools and Colleges. The genisis of this post and others on my Blog are from slides used at the USCB-OLLI courses I have presented here on Hilton Head Island.

One of the biggest problems our country has is a misunderstanding of energy and electricity generation. The current path to Net Zero Carbon is a very hamful path for America because Renewables are not capable of replacing the large, reliable and proven coal, gas and nuclear plants that power our country. Therefore, I continue to do my best to Educate the public on the true facts regarding energy and electricity generation.

Thank you for taking time to read this. Your comments are welcomed.

Yours truly,

Dick Storm, January 20, 2022


  1. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Too Cheap to Meter” Phrase history:
  2. Eisenhower Atoms for Peace Speech to UN, Dec. 8th, 1953:
  3. The History of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. by the Department of Energy:
  4.  World  Article on Nuclear Power Plants in U.S.A:
  5. List of U.S. Operating Nuclear Plants:
  6. Nuclear Energy Institute:
  7. NEI Nuclear Plants by the numbers:
  8. “The Rickover Effect, How One Man Made a Difference” by Theodore Rockwell, 1992, 2002, Originally published by the Naval Institute Press
  9. Turkey Point Nuclear Plant Licensed for 80 years:
  10. World Nuclear Report on Three Mile Island Accident in 1979 :

A Short History of Energy & Electricity and How Our High Quality of Living Came to Be (High Human Development Index) Part 1, 1850-1955

Energy and electricity have fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. The purpose of this post is to share the progress of energy and electricity from the Industrial Revolution to today. I had the honor of presenting a course at USCB-OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and much of the information presented in that course is presented here.

After presenting the course on energy and electricity generation in February (2021), it occurred to me that it may be interesting for some OLLI members to review of how energy and electricity came to be so important in the lives of all of us. Especially the aspects of Industrial growth, manufacturing and economic prosperity. As I was preparing for the course, the relationship of energy and economic growth became very clear to me. I always thought the relationship of Energy and economic growth was important. Nearly all of the College Professors of Engineering and History simply cover the History of Electricity production or the History of Energy. Few that I have known connect the inter-relationship of Energy and the growth of the “Human Development Index”. If we couple progress in energy production with economic progress, I think it is worth sharing because the application of energy to food production, transportation and industrial output grew geometrically from 1900 to today. Many factors contributed to the sharp rise of America’s HDI (Human Development Index) and manufacturing capacity after the year 1900, but in my view, the importance of abundant and reasonable cost energy has not been taught in Public Education or appreciated by the News Media. So, here is my shot at connecting the dots of the advances in energy and economic prosperity. 

I have always loved thermal power plants and spent five decades working in the electric power generation business. Mostly as a “Boiler Engineer”. Over my career I have accumulated a library of old books and technical literature on power generation and most of the illustrations used are from my library. 

Let’s start with the importance of “Steam”. We do not hear many references to steam today, but Steam remains important in power generation today and is likely to remain important in the future as well. 

So, let’s start with the first steam engines and take a quick trip through the ages of energy and power generation to see how humans have harnessed energy to do our hard tasks and improve our lives.

James Watt is usually given credit for the first commercially applied steam engine of the Industrial Revolution. But, to be fair, there were at least three before him. Hero’s turbine in the first Century and Thomas Savory in 1698 applied steam as a motive force. Then, Newcomen in 1712.

The Industrial Revolution began with the invention of the steam engine. The first version was invented by Newcomen about 1712. This engine uses water to condense the steam vapor beneath the piston which then provides differential pressure between atmospheric pressure and the partial vacuum created upon the collapse of the vapor. A pound of water will expand about 1500-1700 times when changed to vapor. In Newcomen’s engine, it was the collapse of the steam space that created atmospheric pressure to force the piston down and thus operate the pump.

About 64 years later, James Watt invented his version of the steam engine that could generate more force than atmospheric pressure by using high pressure steam.

James Watt’s engine created the potential for greater engine output and became the basis for the Industrial Revolution.

The first electric generation in the U.S.A. was about 1880 by Thomas Edison using a reciprocating steam engine drive. Before getting into electricity generation, it is timely to remember that illumination before the light bulb was provided by whale oil and then kerosene. Thus, it can truly be stated that the oil industry saved the whales.

As we cover the history of energy, I think it is notable to consider the environmental aspects of energy produced in 1850 for illumination. Before Edwin Drake struck oil and started the American oil industry, whale oil  or candles were used for night-time illumination. It could be said that Drake, Rockefeller and others involved in the production of oil & kerosene helped to save the whales. Next, the advancements of energy were used to provide transportation. Steam boats and Railroads first used wood and then coal fuel to produce steam power for motive force.

Transportation propulsion systems have been the leader for commercial electric power generation since Edison’s day. First, reciprocating steam engines used as prime movers for steamboats and then locomotives were adapted to stationary generators. Then, steam turbine drives for ships were adapted to stationary power generation. Later, aircraft jet engines were adapted for use as stationary generators and finally, nuclear propulsion systems developed by the US Navy were applied to commercial power generation.

Wood was the primary fuel of the 19th Century and it was used for heating, cooking and transportation via railroad locomotives and steam boat propulsion. The steam engines used for railroads, boat and ship propulsion were later adapted for stationary use in power plants to generate electricity. Interestingly, marine propulsion systems were the basis of technology later adapted to use for power generation. Steam engines, steam turbines, the latest advances in coal boiler developments and even nuclear power generation designs all had their roots in marine propulsion.

Memories and photos of Coal Fueled Steam locomotives of the 19th Century do not help the case for use of coal in today’s power generation plants. The enormous potential power of steam was harnessed for transportation as well as to power the Industrial Revolution. Environmental controls of exhaust gases and particulates came much later. 

This is a short course, so there is clearly a compression of a lot of history. It is my hope to take a quick review of the significant inventions of the last 150 years and to show the relationship of energy to the growth of America and our very high quality of living. Until there is a disruption of our energy supply, such as a pipeline shutdown or a hurricane, we tend to take for granted, our place at the top of the “Human Development Index Pyramid”.  Energy is at the heart of our high quality of living.

It is true that through the use of our God given energy resources, our lives have progressed to a higher Human Development Index. More on that later when the HDI of other countries is compared to ours.

American civilization grew from an agriculturally based society to an Industrial production-based country in just a few decades. About 1915 and continuing to today, much of the work that our ancestors were subjected to is now accomplished with energy. Heat-Engines lay at the heart of the rapid progress of the last 100 years for food production, transportation, industrial production and Economic progress. 

Until the Internal Combustion Engine was Applied to Improving Agriculture and Transportation, Horsepower was the Norm

Benz gets credit for the first automobile produced with an Internal Combustion Engine

Looking back to the days of my grandfather (born 1895), about 40% of the American population lived in rural areas on farms and it took 40% of the population to produce food for the other 60%.

1900 was a year to keep in mind for both the astounding progress of energy and electricity generation. Also, in that year, the Father of Nuclear Power Generation was born. Hyman Rickover was born in Makow, Poland. It was during his lifetime that he personally developed nuclear power for ship propulsion systems. First for submarines and later for aircraft carriers and then commercial nuclear power generation plants. Rickover’s life was productive and amazing. Truly, this one individual changed the world of power generation over his life-time.

A classic speech given by Rickover in 1957 starts with how man has used energy to improve quality of life. Rickover gave historical milestones in energy going back to the Egyptians. This was part of President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative. The genesis of peaceful uses for nuclear power.

Muscle power was being replaced by steam, gasoline and Diesel engines. James Watt created a definition of “Horsepower” by performing various tests. The numbers he settled on to describe a “Horsepower” (still used today) are 550-foot pounds of work in a second or 33,000-foot pounds per minute. This is the definition of one horsepower.

The illustration shows a cartoon of a horse pulling a large bucket of coal vertically upward, representing 1 HP.

The Railroads traversed America in the later part of the 19th Century and provided a platform to further advance the development of boilers and steam engines. It was not long to reach the point that coal fueled locomotives could greatly outrun a team of horses and do so for long duration.

Economic Prosperity parallels the advancements in use of machines powered by steam or internal combustion engines are used to replace muscle power.

Karl Benz is credited with building the first gasoline powered automobile about 1886. Later, Henry Ford invents and develops the assembly line to mass produce automobiles and the demand for petroleum soars. Rockefeller had been producing kerosene for illumination up to about 1900.  Rockefeller was concerned that Edison’s electric light bulb invention would reduce the demand for kerosene and it did. However, with the steady increase of mass-produced gasoline powered automobiles, the demand from Rockefeller’s Refinery’s was steadily increasing.

The right panel (below) shows the sharp increase in GDP at about 1900. America’s GDP and individual family earnings led the world. In my opinion, much of this sharp increase in economic prosperity is due to the reasonable cost, abundant and domestically available energy which was replacing muscle power.

As seen above, the American Economy soared after 1900. By 1903, America’s GDP per person was the greatest of all of the Industrialized Countries of the world. The U.S.A. GDP/person $8,941 with the United Kingdom second at $7,482. Nearly double that of France and Austria. This coincides with the introduction of electricity distribution, the start of gasoline powered tractors, trucks, the beginning of U.S. Steel, Aluminum and automobiles. Energy use was multiplying the production of primary metals and manufactured products. Much previously produced with muscle and some hydropower.

Mechanization of Farming Made Food Producton Much More Productive with Far Less Labor The Fordson Tractor was introduced about 1915

At the same time that Westinghouse, Edison, Tesla and Allis-Chalmers were building power plants in the U.S.A., Parsons, Brush, Thompson, Siemens and others were taking similar steps in Europe.

Edison invented the Incandescent Light Bulb in 1880. However, carbon arc, electric lights were used for street lighting about 1870. (Carbon Arc Lighting was invented by Humphry Davy in early 1800’s using hundreds of batteries to produce the voltage needed for an arc)

Werner Von Siemens invented the Dynamo in 1866. Another European, Nikola Tesla became interested in Alternating Current and invented the Poly Phase Motor. Tesla then found work at an Edison Power Plant in Paris. Tesla was able to work out a transfer to Menlo Park to work directly with Edison. 

Siemens Factory in Germany for producing electric motors, Carbon-Arc Lamps on the streets of Berlin. Inset photo of Charles Parsons Steam Turbine

Edison was convinced that A/C power was not as good as D/C power. Tesla correctly favored A/C because of the ability to transform to higher voltages for long distance transmission and also because the Poly Phase A/C system worked well with his Poly Phase Motor.

Tesla leaves Edison’s employment and struggles in business by himself for a while. Then, Tesla and George Westinghouse team up together. By 1890, Westinghouse had invented the Transformer and this plus Tesla’s inventions of Poly Phase Motors and A/C current create a harmonious and productive team effort of Tesla and Westinghouse. One milestone project that Westinghouse topped Edison on was providing the generators for the first hydro-electric plant at Niagara Falls. The advantages of Alternating Current made longer distance power transmission possible. With Direct Current that Edison favored, the wires could only transmit power about a mile. 

There is much written on the “Current Wars” between Edison and Westinghouse. The American Juris Prudence System does not look so great in retrospect and especially the harsh handling of the engineering excellence that was applied by Tesla and Westinghouse. J.P. Morgan gets involved as a major investor in Edison General Electric which then becomes, “General Electric” and Tesla’s Patents on the Poly Phase Motor and Alternating Current become the basis for the American Electric Grid. From what I have read, it was the deep pockets of J.P. Morgan that held Westinghouse back. 

The disputes between Westinghouse and Edison were not very harmonious to put it mildly.

Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse. Three important people regarding theapplication of electricity for practical purposes

Steam Power requires a steam generator or boiler. As is the case today, Thermal Power Generation provides most of teh world’s electricity. Steam boilers are important and Babcock & Wilcox invents the inherently safe, water-tube boiler in 1867.  I will give a few examples of boiler safety later.

Fire-Tube Boiler (Left) B&W Water-Tube Boiler (Right)

The difference between a “Water-Tube” and a “Fire-Tube” Boiler is the manner in which the heat is transferred from the products of combustion to the water to create high pressure steam. A Fire-Tube Boiler has a large diameter shell (like a Locomotive Boiler) with the hot gases passing through tubes that pass through the large diameter shell. Steam engines are the prime movers for generators of either A/C or D/C and to have steam, so a reliable high-pressure boiler. Is needed to provide the steam supply. There are two types of boilers, Fire-Tube and Water-Tube. The fire tube boiler is a typical design which is similar to steam locomotives of the 19thand 20th Centuries. The  products of combustion leave the fire box and the hot gases of about 2,000-2,500 degrees F. enter tubes which pass through a large pressure vessel. Heat flows from the hot gases through the fire tubes and into the water contained in the large cylindrical pressure vessel. The larger the steaming capacity the larger the boiler cylinder needs to be.

This evolution of boilers is taking place in 1850 to 1900 and steam engines for ships, locomotives and stationary power generation systems are getting larger and larger. Thus, the boiler pressure vessels had to grow in diameter as well. 

The science of Welding and Metallurgy was in its infancy and steel plates were rolled into cylinders to form boiler shells but instead of welding the seams as is done today, they were caulked and riveted. The many riveted joints were an inherent weakness of large pressure vessels.

Fire-Tube Boiler Construction, before welding was developed and applied to pressure vessel fabrication

The inherent safety risk of Fire-Tube Boilers was that the shell diameter for a large capacity boiler must be very large. In the 19th Century and in fact, until about 1930, boilers were constructed using rivets to attach the shell plates together. Welding was not applied to boiler pressure parts till about 1930. Thus, the rivets combined with relatively primitive advances in steel manufacturing and metallurgy, created a high risk for failure of the pressure parts. Between 1895 and about 1910 there was about one major boiler explosion per day. Often each individual boiler explosion would kill dozens of people. Here are a few examples of terrible boiler explosions.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is Founded in about 1880 and one of the main reasons is to work as an organization to improve the safety of the public. The first edition of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is published about 1915. 

Niagara Falls became the first major Hydro-Electric Plant in the USA and I believe, the largest in the world at the turn of the Century. A beautiful and environmentally friendly way to harness the energy of falling water. 

Niagara Falls was an important milestone for power generation. But the enormous demand that began with the 20th Century was satisfied by heat-engines. Reciprocating Steam engines and steam turbines.

Reciprocating Steam Engine Drive for a D/C Generator about 1890 at the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

Meanwhile, in England, Charles Parsons is experimenting with steam turbine designs. As with steam engines, the first major applications of steam turbines are for ships. One of the notable steam turbine applications was to the Royal Navy Ship the Turbinia.

The British turbine powered “Turbinia” was built about 1894. This ship was demonstrated by Parsons to the Royal Navy as being twice as fast as reciprocating steam engine powered ships of the time. Marine applications tend to lead stationary power plants into the nuclear age with the first of a kind used for ships and the Navy, both in Europe and the U.S.A.

In America, about 1900 the transition from steam engines to steam turbines began. In this figure below there is one huge steam engine with a large flywheel in the foreground. In the back can be seen three smaller, but larger capacity steam turbines. From 1900-1915 numerous manufacturers of steam turbine drives came to be. Among them: Westinghouse, General-Electric, Allis-Chalmers, Charles Parsons, Brown-Boveri and Siemens.

In London and other large cities, Central Stations were built to generate electricity for the surrounding area. With DC current, it was only practical to extend wires for about a mile square. Later, AC was used which can be transformed to higher voltage and transmitted over longer distances. The slide of the London Power Station shows the typical arrangement of equipment in this time. Note the belt drives to the Dynamos located on a level above the steam engines and the water-tube boilers.

Energy use is not just for electricity. Even today, about 63% of our primary energy is used for transportation, industrial production and heating. About 37% of America’s energy is used to generate electricity. Automobiles become common and at the turn of the Century, the Internal Combustion Engine was welcomed as a great improvement for the environment. Cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines were a lot cleaner than horses. Petroleum became the largest portion of our energy use following WWII and continues to this day to be the major source of primary energy. Increased Industrial production, improved comforts and conveniences, improved quality of life and the resulting economic activity after 1900.  All of these increased demand for most forms of primary energy and electricity.

Both marine uses and stationary power generation prime movers make progress from reciprocating steam engines to turbines and to advanced boiler designs for safety, improved efficiency and reliability.

The illustration below shows a diagram of how using coal as a source of heat energy is converted to steam which is then converted by a steam turbine to shaft “Horsepower”. Keeping in mind the definition of a horsepower is 33,000-foot pounds of work in one minute. In this example, using coal that has 11,500 Btu’s per pound, the potential work equivalent is 11,500 multiplied times 778-foot pounds per Btu. At 100% efficiency, this one pound of coal would produce about 9-million-foot pounds of potential work. The enormity of this heat energy provides insight into the tremendous energy provided by steam and also, the stored energy within the pressure containment of a steam boiler. This brings us to the advancements in safe design and construction of steam boilers over the next few decades.

From Storm Technologies, Inc. Library of Educational Slides on Power Generation

The demand for electricity grew sharply after the inventions of motors, air conditioning and home appliances. Refrigerators became commonly used in homes beginning about 1927. 

Coal fuel was the predominate fuel during this period for electricity generation. Steam turbine drives as prime movers had grown in size and reliability. The steam boilers larger and larger. Welding of boiler pressure parts was advanced after about 1930 and steam boilers became larger and more safe. Overall, the coal plants became quite large. Here is an article that appeared in “Combustion Magazine” during the 1930’s.

At about this same time, pre WWII, Frank Whittle invented the Jet Engine. This basic design was later used after WWII as the besis for stationary Gas Turbine Drives for generators.

Frank Whittle of the UK is generally given credit for design of the jet engine. It is thought that Von Ohain in Germany had access to Whittle’s Patent before his work. 

Only twenty-two years old when he first conceived the idea of a continuous cycle combustion engine in 1933, von Ohain patented a jet propulsion engine design in 1934 that was similar in concept to that of Sir Whittle but different in internal arrangement.

Von Ohain joined Ernst Heinkel in 1936 and continued with the development of his jet propulsion concepts.

He successfully bench tested of one of his engines in September 1937 and a small aircraft was designed and constructed by Ernst Heinkel to serve as a test bed for a new type of propulsion system known as the Heinkel He178. The Heinkel He178 flew for the first time on August 27, 1939. 

G-E progressed using Whittle’s design to develop both aircraft and stationary gas turbines for power generation.

American Bombers being assembled at Ford Motor Company Plant during WWII, Packard Automobile Plant becomes a Manufacturing Plant for Aircraft Engines

Following WWII, America’s Industrial might continued with the rebuilding of Europe and Japan with the Marshall Plan. Energy use increaded as did manufacturing capacity. Along with the energy and manufacturing capacity increases came increased Economic growth.

U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Administration Chart of Total Energy Use of U.S. 1775-2009

The growth of energy consumption is shown above. This growth in energy can be compared to the GDP of Economic growth in the chart below which is copied from “Our World in Data” website.

The chart below was prepared by ExxonMobil for their Energy Outlook publication. The data is from the World Bank and the United Nations. The point is, the Human Development Index is related to energy avalaibility and use. More energy use can be parlayed into a better quality of life. The foregoing text and illustrations show how the U.S.A. progressed from an Agrairian Economy in the 19th Century to become the most productive Industrial Economy of the world by the mid 20th Century. Of course, Economic Freedom had much to do with America’s rise, but so did the availability of abundant and reasonable cost energy. This will conclude Part 1 of this post. Part 2 will show the relationship of energy and economic prosperity from 1950 to the present day.

Conclusions and Summary:

  1. America progressed from wood and whale oil fuels to the more abundant and increased energy density of coal and oil in about 50 years, 1850-1900.
  2. Our economy progressed and quality of life improved as more muscle labor (human and animal muscle) saving machines were invented, produced and utilized.
  3. Steam engines and steam turbines were the prime mover of choice for ships, railroads and agriculture until the various versions of internal combustion engines were invented and manufactured. The gasoline Otto Cycle and the Diesel Cycle engines were invented and began production in the late 19th Century.
  4. The first major oil discovery in Texas is Spindletop, 1901. This begins the long and productive history of oil production in the state of Texas.
  5. Willis Carrier invents modern air conditioning and humidity control 1902.
  6. Henry Ford revolutionized automoble transportation starting about 1903.
  7. Agricultural production is vastly more productive by the replacement of horse muscle power with mechanized tractors powered by gasoline or Diesel internal combustion
  8. Carnegie and United States Steel become the largest steel manufacturers in the world after 1901
  9. Charles Martin Hall invents and perfects the Aluminum Smelting process in 1888. The Pittsburgh Reduction Company produces aluminum used in the Wright Brothers “Flyer” 1903. Later the name is changed to the Aluminum Company of America and the acronym, ALCOA
  10. Production of both Steel and Aluminum are both very energy intensive. Thus, abundant, reasonable cost energy is required for the steel and aluminum industries to grow as they did.
  11. About 1928 General-Electric produces home refrigerators for preservation of food.
  12. Texas begins development of the Permian Basin oil fields, 1928
  13. During WWII America becomes the “Arsenal of Democracy” and along with our Allies save Western Civilization. The Allies “Arsenal” was fueled mostly by American produced energy, mostly coal and oil.
  14. Captain Hyman G. Rickover has a vision for nuclear propulsion system for submarines and nearly singlehandedly, designs and then leads a team to build the first nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus which puts to sea 1955.
  15. President Eisenhower launches “Atoms for Peace” Initiative for Peaceful uses of atomic energy. Begins at Atoms for Peace Conference in Geneva, 1955

This is Part 1. Part 2 to follow in the near future. The purpose of this post is to show the importance of reliable, reasonable cost and abundant energy. Energy to power our high quality of living. Our energy has been reliable, low cost and abundant for decades. My observation is that people have become accustomed to reasonable cost and reliable energy for so long that we take it for granted. The environmental extremists on the other hand, have attacked all conventional forms of energy including Fossil Fuels and nuclear which together comprise about 90% of the energy that we depend on.

The foregoing list of 15 accomplishments is intended to show the relationship of energy to high quality of life and economic prosperity. If energy availability is reduced, then our quality of life and economic prosperity are harmed. Up to this point in history, we have always increased energy production to meet the demand of our growing population.

Dick Storm, January 13, 2022

Facts Matter: Even Trade Journals Provide a “Woke” Spin on Energy

Yesterday I looked at a recent article in POWER Magazine on power generation capacity additions planned for 2022-2023. I have always respected POWER Magazine and I even give them credit for sparking my interest in electric power generation when I started reading POWER while in college. I have been a contributing editor for POWER and have had numerous articles I wrote published. So, when I see POWER Magazine becoming Politically Correct or “Woke” like many other respected publications, I become concerned.

Here below is the chart they published:

POWER Magazine, December 2021

It looks innocent enough and it is backed up by the EIA as being factual. I think it is more important to lift up what is not said. That is that 78.3 Gigawatts is about 7% of the U.S.A.’s total generation “Capacity” but renewables are not Dispatchable and have low capacity factors when they are producing. For example, let me show a graph (below) from the EIA Real Time Grid in October 2021. Note that of the total generation of about 534,000 MW only about 5% is generated by solar and of course, this was during the daytime. Wind was slightly more but 80% of the generation of Bulk Power was from conventional gas, coal and nuclear. These are all Dispatchable forms of Bulk Power. Conventional, Dispatchable Bulk Power Generation is what powers American Industry and our lives. America depends on reliable power.

Lets go back to last January in the PJM Interconnection (Northeastern U.S.A.) Here is a screen shot of the electric power production during January 31, 2021. Remember January 2021? It was colder than normal and just a few weeks later Texas had their Backouts largely because of dependence on too much wind and solar capacity that was not available (not Dispatchable and not available due to ice and snow). The PJM Interconnection total generation at this moment was 123,512 MW. Renewables were 6,864 MW and most of the renewable power generation was from Hydro.

Getting back to POWER Magazine. They were kind enough to publish my Commentary from March 2021 which is here: I stand behind these comments.

Also in January of 2021, another publication that I have great respect for, the Wall Street Journal produced a video on energy and electricity generation. I took a screen shot of that video and used it in my course at USCB-OLLI. It is copied below:

Screen shot from WSJ video on EnergyC


Facts matter and even respected publications seem to have become Politically Correct or as is commonly referred to today as “Woke”. My concern is that irreparable harm has been done to America’s energy infra-structure and planning for the future. Why do I say this? Because if we look back on the past year, and the list of ten items below are from Andy May’s Blog site (11) these are some of the policies that have been thrust on the people:

  1. European wind died, and they had already closed their coal plants, thus forcing natural gas prices to skyrocket.
  2. In Texas, windmills providing 30% of their power froze and the Texas grid came within minutes of total failure. More than 200 people died due to the storm and four million were left without power.
  3. The UK Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, called on the world to “consign coal to history.” Instead, Russia, China, and India put off ending coal until after 2060. Joe Manchin ended Biden’s plan in the U.S.
  4. In one of the worst timed policy moves in history, Biden promised to ban fracking and he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. He ended up on his knees begging U.S. oil and gas companies, the Saudis, and anyone else he could find to produce more oil and gas.
  5. The U.S.-based Nature Conservancy sold phony carbon offsets to publicly traded companies, like Blackrock, Disney, and JPMorgan.
  6. Joe Manchin vetoed Biden’s plan to federalize the U.S. electricity grid, which would have allowed him to outlaw producing electricity with fossil fuels.
  7. Western wildfires burned up Microsoft’s carbon offsets, which were forests in Oregon.
  8. Blackrock says sustainability (environmental) investing is nonsense.
  9. The Federal Reserve staff says no to Biden’s idea to use the Fed to kill lending to the fossil fuel industry.
  10. An Associated Press poll says the public is not interested in paying more to stop human-caused climate change.

Dick Storm, December 30, 2021


  1. EIA Real Time U.S.A. Grid Electric Production:
  2.  EIA Short Term Outlook, Oct 2021:
  3. EIA Electricity Explained, Total U.S.A. Electric Generating Capacity 2020:
  4. PJM Interconnection Real Time Electricity Production by Fuel:
  5. Dick Storm Short Course at USCB-OLLI Feb 2021, Energy and Electricity Generation
  6. Net Zero Watch Press Release, News of Energy Policy  Failure in UK:
  7. POWER Magazine Commentary, March 2021: Getting back to POWER Magazine. They were kind enough to publish my Commentary from March 2021 which is here: I stand behind these comments.
  8. Power Magazine December 2021 Article on Solar, Storage and Renewable Power:
  9. Washington Free Beacon article on Solar Loan Guarantees:
  10. Junk Science Website on Environmental Policy Failures of 2021:
  11. Andy May Climate Change Blog:

Energy and Economic Prosperity, my thoughts: Dick Storm


Delaware County Bar Association

July 15, 2016

Energy for America

Sunshine, Wind, Nuclear and Fossil Fuels

How Energy Policies and Federal Regulations are Impacting Economic Prosperity

By Richard F. (Dick) Storm, PE, CEM


The name of the seminar series suggests that you might be interested in the inter-relationship of energy, environmental and trade policies that impact the economy, Real-Estate demand and jobs for Middle Class Americans. Here are my observations from my own experiences and travels as to how I think the “Four E’s” are inter-related”. What are the fours E’s? Energy, Environmental, Education of energy and environmental science and Economic Prosperity. These are my personal views which are based on my five decades of working as an engineer in the electric power generation business.

Energy fuels America’s manufacturing, jobs, transportation, heating, air conditioning, lighting and is essential for all of our commercial, industrial production, good paying jobs and financial well-being. In summary, abundant, reliable and reasonable cost Energy is essential to sustain our everyday lives. Just think of the last extreme weather event that cut off your electricity for a few hours or a single day. How about life altering shortages of gasoline as us older folks remember from the Arab Oil Embargoes of 1974-1980?  The purpose of this presentation is to cover the inter-relationship of energy with the economy. An example of energy and primary metals production will be explained to show how rising costs of green power & the war on carbon, combined with International Trade policies has harmed employment by destroying millions of Middle Class manufacturing jobs. Current U.S.A. Regulations and Policies are helping to drive American Manufacturing overseas. Where does our energy come from? How do Renewables fit in? What are the realities of energy supply? The comparative costs? How about National Security? Federal and state regulations are harming America’s competitiveness in manufacturing, driving jobs overseas and causing a decline in American productive capacity. We need policies that will return America to a Nation that Builds and exports products. The notion that America can remain strong as a “Services only  Economy” is wrong, in my opinion. In the following presentation, I will do my best to show the facts of why I believe this. The topics I wish to cover are in two parts:

  1. Energy and the Relationship of Reasonable Cost Electricity to Manufacturing in the U.S.A. (Connecting the dots of energy and environmental regulatory policies to Real-Estate)
  • Relationship of Energy & Economic Prosperity
  • Why the Decline of American Middle Class Economic Prosperity from the loss of Manufacturing Jobs? Trade, Currency Manipulation, Unions, Regulations
  • Manufacturing and Energy Costs Are Related, so where have American jobs gone?
  • Transfer of Manufacturing Capacity Overseas and Trade w/China
  • The Four E’s; Energy, Environmental, Education and Economic Prosperity
  • The loss of “Middle Class American Jobs” is a loss of potential homeownership, contributing to the wide separation of incomes between wealthy and working class folks.
  • America needs to build and export more products made in the U.S.A.
  1. Energy and Electricity Production in the U.S.A.
  • Energy Production in PJM Region
  • Regulations and Energy Costs in U.S.A.
  • Renewable Power
  • Nuclear Power
  • Coal Power
  • Natural Gas
  • Today’s Cost of Competitive Electricity Generation
  1. Relationship of Energy and Economic Prosperity

The NASA Composite Photo, “Earth at Night” shows the world at night. You can see the difference of thriving economies and the Developing World by the level of illumination. The stark differences of lights in Africa and North Korea are striking and for those of us who have traveled to South America, Asia and Africa it is not a surprise. However, Americans take our abundant and secure energy for granted. Public education and the News Media are promoting Renewable “Green” Power and suggesting that we can eliminate the use of fossil fuels in our lifetime. America and the rest of the Developed World depends on Fossil Fuels for over 80% of our energy. This presentation will attempt to highlight the relationship of energy and economic prosperity.

NASA-The Earth at Night a composite photograph

North & South Korea at night. This photo presents a stark contrast of North Korea’s version of Socialism and South Korea’s Freedom and Capitalism. Abundant and reasonable cost electricity combined with Freedom, improves the quality of life.


The figure above was presented by Carl Bauer then of the National Energy Technology Laboratory about 2007. I was impressed with the clear relationship of GDP per person and energy use. This relationship applies to the U.S.A. as well. As our economy and manufacturing boom, people are working overtime spending money for vacation travel and enjoying life, we use more energy than if we stay at home and conserve. Then there are the ever increasing numbers of electrical gadgets that we all love. Soon to come are more attractive electric cars such as the Tesla. Think about where the electricity to power these will come from. I will cover that later.

  1. Why the decline of the American Dream for Middle Class Americans? What does Economic Prosperity have to do with energy or National Energy Policies?

You are a group of lawyers and Real-Estate Professionals and a fair question would be, “What does energy, green energy policies and environmental policies have to do with me?” Well, not directly but the ever increasing Federal Regulations to force green power on the public is harming America’s productive capacity. Of course it is more complicated than just the cost of electric power. There are other important factors that impact America’s competitiveness and manufacturing. Amongst these other factors are: International Trade Policies, Unions, China’s manipulation of their currency, Dumping of primary metals and manufactured products on the world markets and others.

Let me make a point here. This is an Election year and there are two clearly different approaches to the Economic Recovery of America. I submit that the main problem cannot be handled by changing the President or his or her Party, The problem with the decline of American prosperity has much to do with Federal and State Regulations. For example, the EPA, Department of Energy, Department of State, Dept. of the Interior, IRS, Banking Regulators and more remain no matter which party has the office of President. When I contact my Congressman, he politely lets it be known that there is little he can do about the “Professional specialists that are employed in the EPA or other Government Agency”. These people are thought to be as professionals to protect public health and safety. But since the EPA was formed in 1970 and the Dept of Energy in 1977, they have outlived their purposes and simply create new regulations each year, further harming America’s productive capacity. Check the CEI (Competitive Enterprise Institute) web site and Wayne Crews annual “10,000 Commandments”. These provide some further insight to my suggestion that it is an excessive Regulations problem.

My expertise and experience is in power generation so I will focus on where our power and energy comes from and how we use it.  First, let’s take a look at the total energy used in America and the source of that energy. The figure below is called a Sankey Diagram. The thickness of each bar is representative of the amount or percentage of each form of energy flow from the supply on the left side to the use or demand on the right side.

This figure is provided by the EIA (Energy Information Agency) and the above data is from 2014. It shows the total U.S.A. energy consumption of about 98.32 Quadrillion Btu’s. Let’s round it off to 100 Quadrillion Btu’s. What does this represent? Well, if we divide the 100 Quad’s by a population of about 320 million persons then the equivalent visualized energy would be as shown on the next figure. Each American Citizen uses about 334 million Btu’s per year. This is average. Some of us have larger homes, some drive more, some fly more in commercial jet aircraft. Manufacturing to provide jobs, travel, home heating and cooling and Mall lighting and heating all require energy. The intent of the next chart is to illustrate what 334 million Btu’s is equivalent to in coal, oil, gasoline, propane, jet fuel and diesel fuel. This slide was prepared using 2007 data and the total American energy use that year was over 101 Quadrillion Btu’s. The economy was also stronger and growing then. Population was smaller too.

Worth remembering is our high school science class definition of a Btu. A British Thermal Unit is the amount of heat that will raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit. Another equivalence that is important is that if each Btu was converted into mechanical energy at 100% efficiency, then one Btu=778 Foot pound of work. This is where the term “Heat Engines” comes in. “Heat Engines” sometimes called “Prime Movers” are at the root of a thriving modern economy. Thus, the government measures and reports “Quadrillion Btu’s” as a measure of America’s and the world’s energy production and consumption.

So, what does this have to do with home sales and the American Dream for the Middle Class Americans? As America has implemented more and more Federal and State Regulations, the cost of electricity and regulations on energy use for manufacturing has crept up. As I stated before there are other factors too. But the cold hard facts of manufacturing employment are less people are employed in manufacturing today than are employed in government. The total “net” number of manufacturing jobs has declined from over 17 million in 1998 to currently, about 12.3 million.  Some have said that up to 8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to China alone. Therefore, the loss of five million net jobs takes into consideration the new jobs that have been created since 1998. These figures can be checked with the US BLS (Bureau of Labor Standards) and the NAM (National Association of Manufacturers).

Most of these were “Middle Class, head of household” job holders. Think about major Pennsylvania companies alone such as US Steel, Bethlehem Steel, ALCOA, Sun Shipbuilding, Scott Paper and many more.

  1. So where have the jobs gone?

I have lived the last 45 years or so in the south. Once the textile capital of the world, I was told from a retired executive of Wiscassett Mills, that Cannon Mills (Wiscassett Mills was a subsidiary of Cannon Mills)) had about 60% of the world market for towels, sheets and pillow cases in the 1960’s. North Carolina was also the Furniture Capital of the world. Hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs from textiles and furniture were lost from North and South Carolina over a couple decades. Why? Unfair trade policies under NAFTA. Here in Pennsylvania this was the Steel Capital of the world. This state has also lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the primary metals business.

In 2006 the CEO of NUCOR Steel, Dan DiMicco wrote a book entitled, “Steeling America’s Future” This book sub title is, “A CEO’s Call to Arms, Saving Manufacturing through Free Trade”. An important message focused on our Trade policies and the impact of world trade on the Steel Industry in America.  DiMicco’s   message was prescient and important then and still is now. China’s steel manufacturing capacity has grown to be over 50% of the world production capacity. NUCOR Steel is America’s largest Steel producing company. NUCOR became the largest U.S.A.  Steel producer and outperformed other U.S.A. manufacturers. How?  With higher productivity and lower production costs by introduction and perfecting the Mini Mill concept using scrap steel for feedstock to produce steel alloys and shapes to order, rather than integrated mills using iron ore, coke and limestone. NUCOR is Americas largest steel producer and the world’s largest steel recycler. NUCOR’s furnaces are electric arc and utilize about as much electricity for one furnace as a medium sized city. Upwards of 175 MW for just one steel melting furnace. This is one example of the relationship of reasonable cost electric power and jobs in America.

The demise of Pennsylvania’s high paying jobs in steel production is well known by those of us who are over 60. Pennsylvania is/was the home state of Bethlehem Steel, US Steel, Phoenix Steel, Sharon Steel and others. Only US Steel survives of these and now it is at a fraction of the productive capacity of the 1960’s.

Another fine Pennsylvania company once the size of G-E and now defunct, is Westinghouse Electric Company.

Let’s take a look at a surviving Pennsylvania metals company that is still viable but has been significantly downsized in the last decade. That company is ALCOA. In 2006 Alcoa employed over 120,000 employees. Now according to the 2015 Annual Report they employ about 60,000 worldwide.

The Aluminum Company of America known as ALCOA since about 1998 was founded in 1888 and still has their world headquarters in Pittsburgh. ALCOA currently employs about 28,000 in the U.S.A. the other 32,000 jobs are overseas.  ALCOA aluminum production helped us win WWll, build the best commercial aircraft in the world and have made some of the finest engineering breakthroughs using lightweight aluminum alloys. The newest Ford F-150, latest G-E Aircraft engines and Audi automobiles are three examples of ALCOA assisted engineering breakthroughs. So, if we are so good at engineering, innovation and creativeness, then why are so many of our jobs leaving the U.S.A. ?

Of course, it is not as simple as blaming energy and environmental rules that have gone rogue. It is at least nine factors which include energy regulations, misguided public education and excessive environmental laws for three of the nine:

  • Currency manipulation by our International trading partners
  • Trade Policies such as NAFTA which killed the Textiles and furniture industries in the south
  • Foreign manufacturers “Dumping” of products in America. Especially Steel & Aluminum
  • Unions which contributed to the demise of the US Steel and Aluminum Industries
  • Robots and automation of manufacturing processes to minimize human labor
  • Excessive Federal Government Regulations by non-elected Bureaucrats
  • Excessive Environmental and Energy Rules/Laws
  • Misguided Public education on the fundamentals and truth of energy production and environmental protection
  • Business concerns for the “Uncertainty” of future Federal Regulations


As America’s manufacturing workforce has declined, China’s has increased at an exponential rate. China has dumped steel and aluminum on the world markets and risen to be the largest manufacturer of steel and aluminum in just a decade. This has been done at the expense of American jobs. Here are several figures that illustrate the rise of China and the relationship of energy production/consumption in China.


Reasonable cost electricity is important to power competitive  manufacturing production. China has increased their productive capacity in part because of low cost coal power generation. Also, aided by low wages and currency manipulations. Please note the exponential growth of coal power production. China has built over 150 new coal plants in the last decade. India is also building many new coal plants. The Asian’s get it. Reasonable cost energy is needed to create economic growth and jobs.

The photo above is aluminum ingots for export from China. Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. Dumping primary metals is possible with no regard for profitability in a Socialistic/Communist Nation. Full employment is important for the “Subjects” or “Communist Comrades” but unlike ALCOA, US Steel or Nucor Steel, the Chinese do not need to make a profit. They can and do produce enormous quantities of commodities and dump them on the world markets. When competition becomes difficult for them, then they manipulate their currency to make their exports more attractive.

Here are a series of graphs that illustrate the transfer of American Manufacturing Capacity to China. These are from reliable sources including the WSJ, US Government, Congressional Research Service, ALCOA Annual Report and the International Aluminum Institute.



Note the ramping up of Chinese aluminum capacity reached exponential growth rates starting about 2006. ALCOA employment that year was over 120,000 employees.

The world map with total aluminum production below shows China and the world production as of April 2016. China is less than a decade has increased their primary aluminum production capacity to now exceed 50% of the world capacity.

The future for American competitiveness is harmed by the loss of manufacturing in at least six ways:

  • Once a smelter is shut down it is very expensive to restart
  • Skilled craftsmen and technicians are lost
  • Engineering personnel are retired and their expertise is lost
  • Research & Development for new processes and advanced products are reduced because of the lack of funding from profitable manufacturing cash-flow
  • Reduced American jobs drive more College Students to study Humanities and Arts studies that have (mostly) dead end employment opportunities
  • Once prices are driven down by “Dumping” the consumers of aluminum ingot metal become accustomed to the artificially low prices and are reluctant to pay higher prices for American manufactured aluminum.

If you doubt the above, think about what China has done to the United States Steel Industry. It is hard for my son’s company, Storm Technologies to purchase US Made pipe and plate. When he does it is at greatly higher prices and longer lead times than Chinese steel. Even the recently completed San Francisco-Oakland Bridge was constructed of Chinese Steel. Worse yet, Chinese engineering and construction. This erosion of our intellectual and creative capacities, combined with the loss of productive manufacturing capacity is not helpful for our next Generation. This also contributes to the loss of Middle Class jobs and is related to Real-Estate sales.

More worrisome for the long term is the loss of funding for Research and Development of new products, most of which (R&D) has been funded by Industry from a portion of profits of manufacturing. So, as we lose manufacturing we also decline in intellectual property advancement for building products in the U.S.A.

The smelting of aluminum using the electrolytic process pioneered by the Aluminum Company of America uses about 6-7 kW of electricity to produce one pound of metal. It is one of the most electricity intensive manufacturing processes for a common metal. Low cost electricity is imperative to produce aluminum. For example, the aluminum ingot price on the London Metal Exchange is currently about $0.65 per pound. If it takes six kilowatts of electricity to produce one pound of aluminum, then at the US Wholesale electric rate of about $0.06/kW the electricity component for smelting alone is about $0.36/pound or over 50% of the selling cost of the ingot metal. This does not include the energy for refining Bauxite to Alumina and the transportation, labor, cost of Capital, Research & Development and yes, profit. Profit and Dividends to the investors should not be dirty words in America!

The production of aluminum is extremely energy intensive. The figure below illustrates the production of aluminum which requires enormous amounts of energy from the mine to the final use. (Of course the production of all primary metals are energy intensive including steel, copper, titanium, etc.)

The world supply and demand of the light metal has caused a severe drop in pricing from the combined effects of Chinese over-production (Dumping) and the world recession.

Meanwhile in China they have built more than 150 new Coal plants since 2006. America is shutting down about 300 existing coal plants and even more foolish, shutting down some nuclear units. The Chinese are not bound by the Paris COP 21 agreement to reduce carbon emissions. Neither is India. The Asian nations understand that their economic prosperity depends on carbon based fuels and or nuclear generated electricity to power their manufacturing capacity and to lift their people from poverty. So do the African nations. In fact, China is building coal power plants in Africa and other Developing Countries. We have ceded our leadership (and manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A.) of providing power plants to the Developing World to China, Japan and South Korea. When I entered the manufacturing business for power generation equipment in the 1960’s, the U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID) was sending U.S.A. manufactured generating components to build power plants, water purification systems and other infrastructure components to Developing Countries. The American industries that I remember participating in the USAID programs of the 1960’s were Babcock & Wilcox, Westinghouse, Combustion-Engineering, Foster-Wheeler and more.  Now China, South Korea and Japan have that lead. We send our earned wealth to finance Utilities in the Developing World. The manufacturing and jobs however, have been transferred to Asia.

The share of added value of manufacturing of various industrialized countries. Note the steep rise in Chinese Value Added Manufacturing since 2006.

How does China power their Manufacturing?  Same as the U.S.A. did in 2006, with Coal power. The difference is, America uses clean coal plants.  New coal plants for the U.S.A. cannot be built. There is no available and commercially viable technology to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide of coal fueled power plants. In essence, new coal plants (if the EPA so called, Clean Power Plan remains) are illegal to build.


A topic for another day is the discussion of Rare Earth Minerals and their strategic importance for America. The Federal Government rules on mining whether hard rock or coal are incredibly restrictive. Many Federal agencies just say NO to exploration, mining, drilling, Hydraulic Fracturing and any harvesting of natural resources. China, on the other hand, is exploiting the importance of raw materials, Not only in China but around the world including such places as Brazil, Africa, Canada and West Virginia. As I said, that is a topic for another day. Check the National Mining Association website for more information on the difficulties of obtaining a permit for any kind of mine. Remember the “Pebble Copper Mine” proposed for Alaska and killed by Federal Regulators a few years ago. This is just one of many examples. It is not only coal mining that the government regulators excessively regulate.

Back to ALCOA. The company continues to operate but at a much downsized business since the 1970’s when I first became associated with them as a contract engineer.  Alcoa was good to me. I traveled all over the world to four Continents and Jamaica while on contract for them. An example close to my last home town of the last 40 years is Stanly County, NC. In Stanly County when I moved there in 1977 the highest wages were paid by ALCOA’s Badin Woks aluminum smelter. For a small county of about 60,000 citizens the combined payroll of ALCOA and Textile firms was greater than sixty million dollars per year. Since the decline of local manufacturing in Textiles and the aluminum smelting operations about 8,000 jobs were lost in a County with a total population of about 63,000.  Most of the manufacturing and jobs moved to Asia.  The same story of lost middle class jobs can be told of jobs in Pennsylvania steel towns like Johnstown, Bethlehem, Aliquippa, Beaver Falls and Fairless Hills.

  1. Pennsylvania Energy

Pennsylvania has become a major energy producing state thanks to the Marcellus Shale Gas formation and Hydraulic Fracturing. The economic boom of western PA is not from wind power or Renewables; it is from abundant natural gas production.  By the way, the EPA and Federal Regulators have more regulations and more restrictions in mind for natural gas. They are Ideologically driven to favor green energy and they over regulate any fossil fuel exploration or production. They hate fossil fuels and regulate accordingly.

Hydraulic Fracturing has revolutionized natural gas production in America. The amazing innovations and productivity of natural gas production has vaulted the U.S.A. to being the leading producer of natural gas in the world.


Quick Facts on Pennsylvania Energy from the EIA web site:

  • Pennsylvania’s annual gross natural gas production, primarily from the Marcellus Shale, exceeded 4 trillion cubic feet in 2014, doubling the state’s 2012 production and making Pennsylvania the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer.
  • Pennsylvania was the fourth-largest coal-producing state in the nation in 2013 and the only state producing anthracite coal, which has a higher heat value than other kinds of coal.
  • In 2014, Pennsylvania ranked second in the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power. The state obtained 35.5% of its net electricity generation from nuclear power, nearly as much as the 36.1% obtained from coal.
  • Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards require 18% of electricity sold by 2021 to come from approved renewable or alternative sources, including at least 0.5% solar photovoltaic power. In 2014, renewable energy accounted for 4% of Pennsylvania’s net electricity generation.
  • As of 2013, 51% of Pennsylvania households used natural gas as their primary home heating fuel, while 21% depended on electricity for heat and 18% relied on fuel oil. Other heating fuels used in the state included propane, wood, and coal.
  • Natural gas (38%) provides heat to more Pennsylvania homes than any other fuel, but electricity (29%), fuel oil (20%), and propane (9%) are also widely used in the state, according to EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Last Updated: May 21, 2015                  By the US Dept. of Energy, EIA (Energy Information Agency)

  1. What Were the Top 10 Electricity Producing Plants in the U.S.A. in 2015?

The top 10 generating plants in the U.S.A. during 2015 are:

  1. Palo Verde, AZ 32.5
  2. Brown’s Ferry, TVA AL, 27.5
  3. Oconee, Duke Energy, SC, 21.9
  4. West County, FPL Natural Gas, 20.4
  5. Braidwood Nuclear, Exelon, IL, 19.7
  6. Byron Nuclear, Exelon, IL, 19.4
  7. South Texas Project, Nuclear, 19.4
  8. Limerick Nuclear, Exelon, 18.4
  9. Grand Coulee Dam, Washington State, 18.8
  10. Miller Coal Plant, Alabama Power, 17.8

These are major plants that truly carry the load to supply America with reliable high quality electric power. Notice, seven of the ten are nuclear plants. Not on this list, but important contributing nuclear plants are Exelon’s Three Mile Island, Clinton and Quad Cities Plants. There are now less than 100 operating nuclear plants in the U.S.A. and these provide the most reliable carbon free power. Just a few years ago there were 104 operating nuclear units. Why are they threatened with being shut down? Two reasons. Competitive Generation Economics because of low cost, abundant natural gas and forced subsidies of Renewable power such as wind and Solar. One of the top ten producers above, Byron Nuclear Power Plant has been reported as at Risk for shutdown, due to low competitive power generation costs of natural gas and subsidized Renewables.

The excessive Federal Regulations that favor “Green” energy and are against carbon based fuels combined with declining steady 24/7 industrial power demand has created uncertainty for the Utilities and shutdowns of many reliable power generation facilities. There are now 99 operating nuclear generating units. Most are over 30 years old but have been refurbished to run another 30 years. Two new nuclear power plants are being built in the U.S.A. One each by SCE&G and Southern Company.




  1. Coal Plant shutdowns

Coal has been the main fuel for reliable electric generation for the last 100 years. In fact, as recent as 2014, coal plants generated over 40% of America’s electricity. Due to Federal Regulations including the MATS (Mercury and Air Toxics) and Clean Power Plan (Carbon Limitations), many reliable coal plants are being shut down.

The map below is available from the EIA and National Mining Assoc. This shows the locations of 300 coal plants being shut down by 2020.

Another chart provided by the EIA which shows the electricity generation by type in 2014. Note that as recent as 2014 coal provided 18% of America’s Total Heat Energy. This represented about a Billion tons of coal. Since 2014 the coal consumption has been severely reduced, has Bankrupted many coal companies and reduced mining and coal plant employment.

Coal plant shutdowns have been caused by a number of factors which include:

  • The Hydraulic Fracturing advances that have made natural gas abundant and cheap over the last five years. A very recent and large “Step Change” in gas availability and pricing.
  • Federal Regulations, including The EPA and President’s War on Carbon based fuels
  • International trade policies
  • Shut Down of American factories. Especially primary metals producers
  • Efficiency improvements of LED Lighting, improved building codes for reduced heat losses
  • Low cost and abundant natural gas supplies
  • “Green Power” subsidies that force Renewable power on consumers including Industrial uses
  • Public pressure because of the Demagoguery and mis-information of the importance of coal for America

Last year, 2015 natural gas slightly exceeded coal as the predominant fuel for electric power production.

  1. What About Renewables

The “PA Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard requires 18% of Pennsylvania’s electricity to be provided from renewable or alternative sources by 2021. Note that although growing, in 2014 only 4% of PA’s electricity was generated by wind, solar and other renewable sources.

As more and more Solar, Wind and Bio-Mass electric generation is forced on the public, the more the cost is going to increase and the more US manufacturing will be at a further disadvantage in world competition.

A key point to be made about Solar and Wind Power is, these are “Intermittent”. Unlike proven coal and nuclear plants that generate power 24/7 with well over 95% reliability, Renewable Power is intermittent and truly at the mercy of nature.

An example of the cost of solar as compared to a natural gas turbine. This cost analysis is provided by Philip Dowd and published on the “Watts up with That Blog”

The Capital costs of building a solar plant compared to a natural gas plant are compared. Basically, a solar project will cost about 13 times as much as a gas turbine plant of the same size. Also, provisions need to be made for backup power for nights and when the sun is not shining. The example given shows a Capital cost of $200 million dollars for a gas turbine combined cycle plant and $2.6 Billion dollars for a similar sized Solar plant.

As Renewables are being forced on Americans, it is raising the true cost of electricity. Tax credits make it attractive to developers to install solar and wind production facilities, but the fact remains, they are expensive.

Germany and the UK have had recent experiences of escalation of electricity prices and concerns about electric Grid reliability. America should learn from the experiences of these other countries that have forced Renewable power on their citizens. The high cost of renewable power is only reported in trade journals and not widely known by the American public. The abundant and low cost natural gas produced in Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota has permitted relatively flat power costs. The low cost and abundant natural gas has masked the rising cost of power generation by the move to Renewables. Natural gas has a history of cost volatility. If the U.S.A. starts exporting our natural gas to sell at world market prices it will be good for America’s trade balance and for jobs in America. But, the world market cost of natural gas is about four times that in the U.S.A. So, with about 80% of the cost of power generation in a Thermal Power plant being the cost of fuel, when natural gas prices rise, so will the production cost of electricity.


  1. Electricity demand on this facility is 4,800 MWh/day, about the demand for a community of 160,000 average households[i]
  2. The “up time” of both plants must be equal. That is, both must be equally reliable and produce the demand for the same fraction of time over the course of one year.

Estimated Capital Cost to Generate Electricity

This does not include the cost of backup power such as natural gas, nuclear, coal and hydropower plants that must be maintained and ready to replace power when the solar plant becomes unavailable. The backup power provided by conventional power plants is a large factor that is causing extreme problems for the Utilities that have much of the current installed capacity that is depended on when needed but not adequately compensated for to keep in first class condition and ready for backup of the “Politically Correct” Renewable Power generation. The most extreme example of the harm being done is the shutting down of perfectly reliable and safe nuclear power plants. Once the lowest cost power production available.

Low production cost of electricity has been the backbone of American manufacturing, Reasonable cost electric power in the past has truly fueled America’s economic prosperity and productive capacity. Here is a perspective on the cost of producing electricity from the Nuclear Energy Institute:

Nuclear electricity production costs are much lower than any other type of generation .  This can be seen from the Nuclear Energy Institute’s website, which provides the production costs for nuclear, coal, natural gas, and petroleum generating units. (Renewable energy sources are not included.)  The costs are based on data submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the FERC Form 1 by regulated electric utility companies. These costs are shown in the graph which follows.  Note, excluding Renewables which are only competitive because of subsidies, Nuclear Power is the least cost generation. Nuclear for those who believe man is changing the climate, is the largest most reliable form of “Carbon Free” energy.

POWER Magazine wrote recently that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, said: U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said the time will come—perhaps 10 to 15 years from now—when “nuclear power is going to have to see a substantial resurgence.”

Moniz was speaking on May 19 at the “Summit on Improving the Economics of America’s Nuclear Power Plants.” He provided opening remarks, framing the challenges facing the nuclear power industry, but not offering a remedy for the problems.

Economics Are Challenging Nuclear Power

“I think the challenge is very clear,” Moniz said. “With the economic challenges facing certainly some of our nuclear plants, we’re seeing—as you well know—some closures before license expirations. We’re seeing the prospect of even more. The importance of incentivizing continued operation, I think, is very clear, but the solutions are less clear.”

Moniz  noted that nuclear power accounts for roughly 60% of the U.S.’s zero-carbon generation. As such, he suggested that it is hugely important in the country’s quest to meet carbon reduction goals by 2030 and beyond.



When Capital cost of installation, fuel costs, maintenance and all operational costs are considered, here is one estimate of power generation costs from new generation technologies.

As you can see, the lowest costs are for conventional coal and natural gas generation. Nuclear power generation reductions, such as premature nuclear plant closings is an unexpected consequence of the “Green Energy” policies. This trend, in my opinion, is contributing to the De-Industrialization and weakening of America’s productive capacity.

  1. What are some of the Issues of Drastically Swinging the Load of Large Coal and Nuclear Power Plants? Reliability of electric power supplies is important to any advanced economy. The issues of reliability and cost is not explained by the news media or by fair public service education by the government. There are disadvantages and risks of forcing green renewable power onto the Electric Grid. Green, carbon free power sounds good but what are some of the hidden costs and challenges? Well, here is a challenge that only electric utility engineers and people close to the industry are aware. That is the fact that when renewable power is forced onto the Grid, the backup power (coal, nuclear and natural gas) must be backed down. Imagine a huge generating unit of say 500 MW running on coal fuel and stable. As the sun comes up or the wind starts to blow the wind generators, the power is forced onto the grid and the load must be immediately reduced to minimum. It may not seem like a big deal to those who have not had power plant operation experiences but a large coal plant usually will take hours to startup and increase load to maximum. Safely shutting down should be a matter of hours to gradually reduce the load and take the equipment out of service. In the real world of forced renewables here is the actual impact of the forcing of solar or wind on the California Independent System Operator:

In this example, as the sun went down 13,000 MW needed to be started up within three hours to replace that power generation loss. This can be done with fast starting natural gas turbines. It is very difficult to do this with the existing coal and nuclear plants that carry most of the load and stabilize the frequency and voltage of the Grid.


From my personal experiences about six years ago in Nevada, we were working at a small coal plant near Las Vegas which had total generation capacity of about 600 MW. The Renewable Power Portfolio laws in Nevada are similar to Pennsylvania and tax incentives were given to encourage the installation of Solar panels by home owners and commercial locations. As the sun came up in the morning a near immediate reduction in power demand was seen on the system. The 600 MW of solar power was equivalent to the entire output of the coal plant. At the end of the day when the sun set, there was a similar sudden reduction in power production by the solar panels requiring that the power plant be ramped up.

Now when we get industrial sized batteries and inverters to cover these swings it will likely be handled with new technologies of storage. But, until then, the quality of power including frequency, VAR’s, voltage and Grid balance is a challenge.  High capacity storage is decades away, in my view. Electric Grid voltage and frequency stability is better with today’s technology by having massive conventional nuclear and coal plants stabilizing the grid.

The sudden drastic increase in natural gas generation has mitigated the effects of Renewable power intermittency.  The Shale Gas Revolution was not planned ten years ago. Inexpensive and abundant natural gas came on us not through good energy policy planning but by Free Markets and American ingenuity.

Likewise, the current reasonable cost of electricity is not due to “Free Power” from the sun and wind. The reason power costs are level is primarily because of low cost natural gas. Other contributing factors are excessive generation capacity due to Industrial Power reductions (less manufacturing) and existing nuclear plants that have a low power generation cost. Remember the old STP Oil Treatment ad where the statement is made, “Pay me now or pay me later” It is an appropriate phrase for forcing green energy on the grid. America  will eventually  pay a high price for these Ideologically driven policies.


  1. What About the Cost of Producing Electricity?

Most of the production cost of a coal or natural gas plant production is fuel. In round numbers about 80% of the cost to produce electricity in a coal or gas plant is for fuel. Nuclear plants have a high Capital cost and low fuel cost. Renewable power is much higher cost production and to be competitive it is given subsidies.

For example, here are two charts that show the cost of European electricity prices and how these compare  to the U.S.A. electricity costs.

The European experiences with shutting down nuclear power plants and forcing green energy has come at a high cost. It would be helpful if American Regulators would study the results of green policies in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

The lowest cost generation is nuclear, coal and natural gas used in Thermal Power Plants as shown in the preceding graphs from the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Institute for Energy Research (IER).




Here is a map of the U.S.A. which shows power costs by state and the percentage of coal generation. This is from the National Mining Association website.

Cost Per kWh & Percent of

Coal Power Sector Generation

Sources: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, March 2016 (2015 prelim. data); WGL Energy Services, District of Columbia (2015); California Energy Commission (2014 latest available); Washington State Department of Commerce (2014 latest available); Idaho Power (2014 latest available). 2015 data are preliminary.

  1. Summary of How We Got into this Mess and What Can Be Done to Correct it?

The reasons we have such a mess of our energy and environmental policies are many. There is ample blame to go around and one the main reasons has been the natural gas “Boom” that has created abundant supplies of natural gas which have driven natural gas power generation prices downward. This is good for America. Combined with the natural gas boom has been tax subsidies or “Production Tax Credits” for Renewable Power from Biomass, Wind and Solar generation. “Green Power Only” is very harmful and not good for America’s long term interests.

The impact of all of these factors together have created unintended consequences of causing perfectly good, well maintained, safe and carbon free nuclear plants to become economically uncompetitive. Two Exelon Plants have publicly announced they will shut down in 2017. These are the Illinois nuclear plants “Clinton and Quad Cities”. The Three Mile Island plant has been discussed as a possible for shutdown due to current economic conditions. So has the Byron Nuclear plant been discussed as being at risk. To those of us who have been involved in the electric generation industry for decades and understand the long term consequences of these shutdowns, we are concerned for America.

My list of reasons why we have gotten into this mess follows.

Ten Regulatory components of why we have such an energy and environmental rules mess:

  1. Regulations to force “Green Energy” on the public.
  2. Subsidies of green energy with tax dollars
  3. News Media indoctrination of green energy as being the only way to go by the government. Driven by influential persons and groups who basically follow an Ideological “Green Religion”
  4. Use of Federal Agencies to spread biased information on science. NASA, NOAA, Dept. of State, Dept. of the Interior, The Office of the President,
  5. Public education at all levels, including College level, has been incentivized to come on board with the greens to push the renewable agenda by University Grants and Federal Funding. AT least two states (Washington and California) have implemented book destruction if the textbooks do not conform to “Green Policies”
  6. Large corporations, especially Utilities have accepted the push for solar and wind. Why not? They will get compensated just as well by building wind towers and solar farms as with building new coal or nuclear plants. Less risk, good payback. Why fight for right? There are at least two ex CEO’s of major US Electric Utilities that are examples of “Green Ideologues”. Two I know of are thankfully, retired. Both are leftist lawyers. Both lobbied for more green subsidies and a carbon tax. In the case of one Utility that has 17 nuclear power plants, the green subsidies have back-fired on his plan to make carbon free nuclear plants attractive. It was not only the pro-renewable energy policies that is causing problems for nuclear, it is also abundant and inexpensive natural gas generation as is covered below.
  7. Unexpected as all of the “Green Push” was going on came the outstanding success and innovation of Hydraulic Fracturing and enormous amounts of natural gas flooding the markets and causing prices to drop sharply. Ten years ago few people expected natural gas production in the U.S.A. to reach the levels it went to. Prices to drop to less than coal in $/million Btu’s
  8. High Efficiency natural gas generating plants that use Gas Turbines with heat recovery and a steam turbine topping cycle. These plants called Gas Turbine, Combined Cycle are far more efficient than coal plants.  G-E, Siemens and Mitsubishi and more manufacturers around the world, build these plant components like they produce jet engines…assembly line style. Low cost and manufacturing that can be done anywhere from Charlotte to Hanoi to China… The components for one of the   G-E GTCC plants that I am familiar with, were manufactured in locations all over the world.
  9. American manufacturing has declined, especially energy intensive primary metals manufacture like aluminum, steel and copper. This freed up enormous amounts of power generation once needed 24/7 for industry to be available for commercial malls and residential. ALCOA’s dams in Stanly County is an example. The 100 MW of ALCOA Hydro is double the 50 MW used by the city of Albemarle (population about 20,000) on the highest demand day of the year.  Worse yet, industry used to use power at night that flattened the load demand. Now we have sharp swings of load demand from high to low and large coal or nuclear plants cannot be run from 10% to 100% load like a gas turbine can be. This gives gas plants another advantage of being fast to respond to load changes.
  10. Then there is the carbon hating mainstream media in my area the most biased are CBS 60 Minutes and the Charlotte Observer which have hyped up coal ash concerns when the public health issues are not near as bad as reported.

My recommendations for the future are to do whatever is necessary to keep a “Balanced Portfolio” of electricity generating plants that use Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Renewable power.

I have referenced a report by the National Coal Council which prepared a report following the 2014 “Polar Vortex”. The state of Pennsylvania during that extreme cold period was importing 2,000 MW from the Midwest. Luckily, the transmission lines remained capable of keeping power reliable over that long distance. Should a similar extreme cold or extreme heat weather event come to pass in 2017, we may face the true prospect of rolling Blackouts or Brownouts. Why? Because over 300 coal plants and at least five nuclear plants that were operating in 2014 are not likely to be operable in 2017. Concerning electricity prices of the future, it is my prediction that when natural gas supplies and demand come closer in alignment, the price of natural gas will increase to levels comparable to the world markets. The cost of electricity production from thermal plants is about 80% fuel cost. So, if natural gas prices rise sharply, so will electricity production prices. It is the cost escalation of electricity from over regulation that I fear will create more problems for American manufacturing competitiveness in the world markets.  One of the “Root Causes” of escalating electricity prices will be Federal Regulations and the Renewable Power Standards.

I hope this presentation helps you understand where our electricity and energy comes from and some of the complicated policies that create uncertainty for the future. I would point out the National Coal Council Report of 2014 which reported on the near “Blackouts” that we were perilously close to during the Polar Vortex of January 2014. Extreme weather events such as this, will be harder to handle with large coal and nuclear plants shutdown. I have attached references and links for further research. If you only read or peruse one of the listed references, I suggest that you refer to # 34 the National Coal Council Report of “the Value of the Existing Coal Fleet”. Read about the “Polar Vortex” of January 2014 and the many reliability issues that were compounded from freezing lines, gas pipeline choking, transmission line limitations and absence of Renewable power during a time of extreme demand. Next winter could be a “Perfect Storm” for Blackouts if extreme cold weather recurs, such as it did during the 2014 Polar Vortex.  In my opinion, America’s green energy and environmental policies have set us up for some painful and expensive experiences that will be harmful to our Nation’s economic recovery as well as energy security. Current complicated Energy and environmental regulations have contributed to the decline of American manufacturing, a decline of middle class American jobs and weakened National Security.  I hope the foregoing information and references below are helpful to you.

Prepared by,

Richard F. Storm, PE, CEM

Dick Storm

55 Headlands Drive

Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

References and materials for Further Reading and Research:

  1. Competitive Enterprise Institute, 10,000 Commandments by Wayne Crews:
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Manufacturing Employment, May 2016- 12.28 million:
  3. Congressional Research Service, April 2016 Report by Mark Levinson on American and World Manufacturing  Statistics and trends:
  4. Congressional Research Service, Rare Earth Materials for National Defense and the concern of China’s dominance of control of such elements:
  5. International Aluminum Association
  6. Coalition for a Prosperous America web site regarding “Fair Trade”
  7. San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Made in China:
  8. file:///Users/richardstorm/Documents/Economic%20Reports%20and%20Data/World%20Aluminium%20—%20Primary%20Aluminium%20Production%20by%20IAI%20April%202016.webarchive
  9. EIA Annual Energy Outlook Early Release, 2016:
  10. National Mining Association:
  11. NASA Earth at Night composite photo:
  12. NETL’s Carl Bauer Presentation, 2006:
  13. EIA Sankey Diagram of U.S.A. Energy:
  14. S.A. Citizen per Capita Energy Use Figure: Storm Technologies, Inc. Power Point Presentation to Civic Organizations about 2010. Other presentations are available on the Storm Technologies, Inc. website:
  15. Nucor Slide of U.S.A. Manufacturing Jobs, from NUCOR Townhall Meeting presentation about 2008. Update of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A. in 2015 from National Assoc of Manufacturers (NAM)
  16. Dan DiMicco, CEO NUCOR Steel, Book, “Steeling America’s Future”, A CEO’s call to arms, saving free trade. Vox Populi Publishers, LLC , 2007
  17. World Steel Organization: Facts on China Steel Production
  18. Wall Street Journal article on China production keeping a lid on aluminum prices:
  19. New York Times article on Aluminum Dumping by China:
  20. Metal Miner Blog articles on Steel and Aluminum dumping by China:
  21. Institute for Energy Research (IER)
  22. Pennsylvania Energy Quick Facts: EIA
  23. Top Ten Generating Plants in U.S.A. May 23, 2016 U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
  24. Coal Plant Shutdowns:
  25. Exelon to Shutdown Two Nuclear Power Plants in Illinois:
  26. Power Magazine, June 7, 2016: Exelon Byron and Three Mile Island Plants also at Risk:
  27. S. Department of Energy Remarks, POWER Magazine, May 20, 2016:
  28. Grid Parity for Renewables: An Empty Concept (Parts 1 & 2) Mark Febrizio, March 21, 2016, IER:
  29. Gas and Solar Comparison Costs: Blog “Watts up with That” by Blog owner, Anthony Watts
  30. S. Electricity Generation Production Costs: Nuclear Energy Institute:,-Operation,-Waste-Disposal-Life-Cycle/US-Electricity-Production-Costs
  31. California System Operator Demand Problem with Renewables, “Duck Curve” page 68, Donn Dears book: “Nothing to Fear, A Bright Future for Fossil Fuels”
  32. Donn Dears Blog: “Power For the U.S.A.” Donn is a retired G-E Executive engineer with outstanding credentials and common sense:
  33. World Electricity Price Comparisons:
  34. The National Coal Council May 2014 Report: “The Value of the Existing Coal Fleet”:
  35. A good read of a speech by the father of Nuclear Power, Hyman G. Rickover’s speech to the medical association of Minnesota on peak oil and the future of energy and atoms for peace, 1957: A very prescient genius. Worth the read:
  36. Heritage Economic Freedom
  37. Listing of Countries by  Economic Freedom: