Saturday, February 26, 2011

Job security

I just saw my first Chevy Volt the other day. That encourages me, at least someone is crazy enough to try it. Everything I have heard about this car says it is practical. Unlike the Leaf or Tesla it could fit into my life without trouble. Now it just needs to be cheap enough, or oil prices to be expensive enough, for it to make economic sense.

Speaking of oil prices, back up over $100 a barrel this week. In 2008, when oil was about $120 a barrel I predicted that in the next 5 years we would see both $50 a barrel oil and $200 a barrel oil. That prediction may yet prove crazy but since gas is this expensive in the winter I certainly wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be correct by the end of summer.

In other news the California Senate voted to raise the renewable cap to 33% by 2020. This will be both difficult and expensive. It does have some real advantages if the price of fossil fuels goes up too much though. A big enough supply shock and we will really look like we knew what we are doing. Of course going the nuclear route would have been far more effective but this is California so that would be asking a bit much.

The conclusion I draw from these observations is there is quite a lot of job security in the electric power industry. We have to rebuild the electrical system built in the 60s and 70s while completely rearranging the system to use more renewable energy than has ever been used and complying with ever more stringent safety requirements. At the same time most of the experts are well past retirement age and very few good college programs exist anymore in power engineering.

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