‘From the Left’ — and saving us from the ‘hot air’


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By Elaine Kolodziej

By Elaine Kolodziej

Adding an alternative viewpoint “From the Left” each week has proven to be popular with readers. We appreciate that even our conservative readership has graciously accepted the addition.

This week we are introducing Marc Dion’s column. He is another northeasterner, who throws in a bit of humor along with his politics.

Readers may find it refreshing, as Dion’s slant will be a nice complement to Froma Harrop, Susan Estrich, and Joe Conason. We will continue to alternate among this group of writers unless and until readers point to a single favorite.

Now, on to the “hot air.” This summer’s weather, along with the heated political climate, surely is enough to “try men’s souls,” as Thomas Paine wrote.

While cooler weather slowly inches its way into South Texas, a summer without rain has proven to be one for the record books.

More than trying men’s souls, it has been pushing the limits on our state’s management of energy resources.

This is how it goes.

1. The wind stops.

2. The sun goes down.

3. Power generation becomes limited.

4. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) requests consumers to “swelter in place.”

5. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) promptly echoes ERCOT’s conservation request in anticipation of expected “tight grid conditions.”

This is no surprise, because wind energy is limited when the wind doesn’t blow.

Solar power is limited when the sun goes down, as it does regularly on a 24-hour cycle. That’s the way it works.

Consumers are expected to raise their thermostats and limit their use of electrical appliances during afternoon hours until 9 p.m. in order to avoid possible rolling blackouts.

We don’t want blackouts, of course, so we comply. But we also ask why, in a country rich with natural resources, we are asked to live like we are in a Third World country.

The PUC has listed a number of ways for easing the suffering during these trying times of global warming (which used to be called summer).

Here are some suggestions from its website. We already know to set our thermostats higher, but what about hanging clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer? (If you don’t have a clothesline like we used to have, possibly you can throw sheets over patio chairs for faster drying like I do.)

The second one on the list of “hot weather energy-saving tips” is my favorite. “Use ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate and cool air.”

I can attest that those really make a difference. We use several in the office, and they help tremendously to make the uncomfortable heat bearable, and cost only pennies on the dollar to operate compared to operating the air conditioner.

But just when we get used to using our fans, the Biden administration comes up with a doozy. This is on top of its efforts to enforce restrictions on household appliances such as gas stoves and portable gas generators, all of which will cause the price of all new appliances to skyrocket.

Now the Department of Energy has proposed rules that would impose strict “energy efficiency standards” on ceiling fans.

While ceiling fans do not replace air conditioners, they greatly improve the efficiency of cooling, at a much lower cost. An air conditioner might cost $0.36 every hour to operate, whereas a ceiling fan, only $0.01 per hour. Let’s not look at meager savings on more “energy efficient” ceiling fans. Instead, consider the higher cost of fans after manufacturers are forced to retool.

But never fear. As Ronald Reagan so famously said “I’m here from the government and I’m here to help you.”

We are seeing this in action.

That’s my opinion.

What’s yours?