Friday, August 16, 2019

Frank Alan Osborne







About three weeks ago, I got a call from my brother's son.  He asked me if I knew about my older brother Frank.  I responded that I had just talked with him on Friday, but tell me what's happening.

Apparently, Frank was rushed to the hospital there in Dallas on Tuesday morning after a really bad night.  It was now Thursday, so I booked a ticket for an evening flight to Dallas and rearranged my schedule to make it happen.  I called Frank and he answered sounding a little out of breath but basically more or less OK.  I wondered if maybe his son was a little over reacting to talk about DNR's with the doctors.

When I got to Dallas,  I called again after checking into the Melrose Hotel.  He was tired so I caught some dinner.  The next day, I got to his room just in time to watch a covey of white coats come into the room.  The head doctor asked if she could be frank with me in the room.  Frank made a joke, then corrected his tongue in cheek response.  As she was getting into to her speech about how grave his condition was, Frank interrupted, "Now let's not be so pessimistic, I intend to be out of here by Saturday or so."

Frank had been a successful businessman for 45 years and he was not about to be told he was going to pass.

Later that afternoon, after spending 4 or 5 hours of quality time together, I left thinking I would catch the flight back to Austin so I wouldn't miss a dinner engagement with friends.  When I got in the hotel car, I began to sob, and I realized what a dumb plan that was.  I went back to the Hotel and called my Dr. partner and asked her to fly up to Dallas too.  We spent the next 2 days with Frank and his wife and family.

When we left, he said, "I'm going to make your 70th Birthday party in September."

For the next week, I called him everyday and listened as his voice grew weaker and his need for oxygen increased.  His lungs were basically shot.  Then he went into intensive care.  Then he got a Tracheotomy.  The Staff infection in his lungs was on its way to another morbid victory.

Frank was three years older than me.  Once, when I was four, while living in Amarillo, a bully named Craig, pulled us both in our little red wagon out into the large sticker laden vacant lot that would someday be Wolflin Village.  Craig then left us in the sticker patch barefooted.  I remember Craig laughing as he walked away.  Frank pulled us both to safety, he doing the pulling, me doing the crying.

As a young man Frank was credited with saving the life of the foreman of the Chambers Ranch as a sand bank collapsed burying the crew.  Frank was a trained Eagle Scout and his quick response and mouth to mouth resucitation brought Mr Schaef back from apparent death.

When he was three years old, he found a picture of Jesus and asked Aunt Francie who is this?  Francie said, "that's Jesus Christ".  Frank responded, "well it's a good picture of him".

Thus began Frank's long life of opinion.

When I graduated from high school, we went to Europe together for three months. We traveled to Rome, to Paris, to London, to Munich, and all over in our $450.00 red Volkswagon.  Frank accidentally hit a bicyclist in Italy which almost got problematic.

Frank and I were business partners in conjunction with our mother. We bought real estate in Austin, fed cattle in the panhandle, and bought oil deals in Oklahoma.  And even though we had been room mates in college, and I had been his best man in his marriage, we pretty much  drifted apart in the eighties.  And it wasn't until about 10 years ago, that we found each other again.

That came about for several reasons; one, my therapist brought me to understand that hating your brother for their political beliefs wasn't that smart, and two, Frank joined AA.  Also, our mother passed.

On Saturday August 10th, I once again headed for Dallas thinking that we were somewhere between the beginning of the end and the end of the end.  It was the latter.

Frank passed at 7:09 there in the Clements Southwestern Hospital.  He was surrounded by his wife, son, daughter, grandson, daughters in law, son in law, a former business partner, and his younger brother who knew him longer than any of them.  But they knew him better.

Here is their version that they posted as his obituary:

Frank Alan Osborne, faithful husband, devoted father, and beloved grandfather, peacefully passed into the Kingdom of God on Saturday, August 10, 2019. He was in the loving presence of his wife and family. Frank was born in Amarillo, Texas, on June 27, 1946. The firstborn son of Joan Chambers Osborne of Canadian, Texas, and Jack Harold Osborne of Miami, Texas, Frank spent his youth earning his Eagle Scout badge, learning to ranch and wrestling up trouble on the wide-open ranch lands of the Texas Panhandle.
Outside of school, ranch work and play, one of his favorite pass-times was smoking cigarettes, a hobby he took up at the age of 14. Hours before Frank’s passing, he asked, please write in my obituary that I died from lung cancer, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, and emphysema. We expect he wanted this written as a public service announcement against smoking.
In his early college career, Frank attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He finished his studies at the University of Texas at Austin graduating with a BBA from the College of Business Administration in the Spring of 1969.
Frank met the love of his life, Jane Anne Osborne, his senior year of college. He hastily proposed to this beautiful woman from high school. Knowing she was way out of his league, he married her within the year. Frank and Janie would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this November, a feat Frank boasted proudly to all who would listen.
The young couple began their life together and started a family in Lubbock, Texas, where Frank had a successful banking career. Yet being a family man was Frank’s most important ambition, so after 15-years of banking, he and his young family returned to their childhood home of Pampa, Texas, to raise their kids with extended family.
Until retirement, Frank served as the Chief Financial Officer of the family-owned and operated oil and gas business. A devout Christian, Frank served on the vestry and as treasurer at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. He loved to coach his son’s soccer games and sleep through his daughter’s dance recitals. When his children moved to Dallas to attend college, Frank and Janie soon followed. Family always first. Frank’s life is characterized by three pillars of dedication – his faith, his family, and Alcoholics Anonymous. Frank had a zeal for the Lord and an insatiable appetite to grow in understanding his calling as a child of God. Both his home and office bookshelves overflow in theological texts and personal journals on his spiritual musings.
To his last breath, Frank wanted nothing more than to be there for and to be with his family. His wife, children, and grandkids felt likewise. Frank’s calling as a Christian servant was fulfilled in his passion and commitment to the men and women of Alcoholics Anonymous, where he brought both leadership and compassion to his multi-level involvement. His thoughtful, articulate manner of expressing himself was an inspiration to all who knew him and his leadership on The Adult Rehabilitation Ministry Executive Board was an excellent example of how he put servanthood to others above his personal needs.
Loved ones who will miss Frank until we meet again are his wife Janie Osborne, daughter Erin Osborne Schmerbeck, son Ryan Osborne, son-in-law Vic Schmerbeck, daughter-in-law Susanne Osborne, grandchildren Sarah Kate Farmer, James Farmer, Estee Piccagli, Reese Osborne, and Sydney Osborne, brother Michael James Osborne, sister-in-law, Dana Sprute, and brother-in-law Rick Leverich. A memorial service will be held in the chapel at Saint Michael and All Angels Church, 8011 Douglas Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75225 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at 3:00 PM. A celebration of Frank’s life will follow at Dallas Country Club from 4:00-6:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, Frank would be blessed by a contribution to Alcoholics Anonymous – www.ctb.aa.org 

Frank was a pretty rich man.  His house at 3900 Stonebridge in Dallas earned him an internet posting as the "King of Turtle Creek".  For the last year, He and Janie lived high up in the Ritz Carlton in a big residence with a huge covered patio and outside areas on three sides.

But like many successful men who are looking at their mortal end, Frank grew more and more spiritual in his later years.  In one of our last talks alone, he talked about the writings of some Jesuit Priest that he liked a lot.  As he talked about the writings, I interrupted and said,  "Do you mean Pierre Teilhard de Chardin?  He is one of my favorites."

"Yes", he said.

We had reached our own Omega Point in our own Noosphere.

And there was no place left to go.

So long cowboy, Vaya con Dios.




















 

 

 

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Mendacities of Madness

The press doesn't seem to know how to handle the amazing river of mendacity that flows from DJT's mouth or wherever.  But with the R's, its been going on for decades.

Here is a piece I wrote in 2006. (some of the links are dead)

The Liars Paradox


*

Here is Jon Stewart on the recent Politburo elections.

Wow, why do all of these guys look like car salesmen?

Actually, I'm rather fond of car salesman.

They are equal opportunity opportunists who will full pop their

grandmother,

and then brag about it.

They have transcended right and wrong.

Many many years ago when I was a young ad man,

I decided to work for Car Dealers,

because I knew where I stood with them,

(they were liars)

Then one afternoon, one of them told me,

"You know Max, car dealers always lie."

I was stopped in my tracks.

I knew I had heard a modern day version of the Creton paradox.

The Creton Paradox is a bipolar paradox

Bipolar paradoxes are meta statements (statements that refer to themselves) that result in a self contradiction. The classic bipolar paradox statement is “All Cretons are liars” voiced by a Creton. If the statement is true, then, when applied to the statement, we conclude the Creton lied and, hence, all Cretons are not liars – a clear paradox. "

Statements like,

I am lying now.

This statement is false.

They all fall in the same category.

So, if all Republicans are liars,

Let's hope that we do not hear a Republican say it,

For then it will be a bipolar paradox,

instead of the truth.

And then they will be just like the car dealers.

Now, if a Republican is also a car dealer,

we get into some serious metaphysicalities.

It's like trying to figure out if its a worse sin when a priest

uses a rubber.

But the paradox with Republicans is even deeper.

Why would these conservatives be liberal with our finite resources?

Why would these lovers of individual rights support warrentless spying?

Why would these fiscal conservatives be fiscally irresponsible?

Why would they protect life in the womb

and destroy it everywhere else?

Why would they come to Washington to bring integrity,

and instead bring corruption?

Perhaps Bertand Russell has the answer.

Here is the end of his Nobel prize address.

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power. When you see large masses of men swayed by what appear to be noble motives, it is as well to look below the surface and ask yourself what it is that makes these motives effective. "

For as Lord Acton said,

"Power tends to corrupt, and

absolute power corrupts absolutely."

That may be a paradox,

but it's no lie.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Real Bad Guy



We went to the mountains of Mexico towards the end of June.  While in the Austin airport, we bought a copy of the Washington Post version of the Mueller Report.  As usual, as is the case at the beginning of the rainy season in the Sierra Catorces, the days have been rainy and cool; perfect days for reading this 2 1/2 inch, 729 page bible-like edition.

So now, I can finally say that I have read the Mueller Report.  I have also read the indictments of the main characters, the responses of DJT to the OSC's questions, and some other background history gems provided by the Post's authors.

It's a reference book that will be part of World History for generations.

One of the more telling stories is the piece by Mark Fisher and Sari Horwtiz. It's a comparison of how both DJT and Robert Mueller were both born to wealth, raised to lead, and then took sharply different paths in life.

For example, DJT grew up in a 23 room manse in the Queens, a faux Southern plantation house with a Cadillac limousine in the driveway.  In the second grade, he said, "he punched his music teacher in the face." He got into trouble often.  His real estate developing father thus sent him to New York Military Academy where except for being demoted his senior year and relieved of duty as Captain of the barracks, DJT actually thrived for 5 years.

Mueller was born to a social rank that barely exists anymore.  His father was an executive at Dupont. He went to St. Paul's Episcopal school where the Astor, Vanderbilt and Mellon families educated their own boys. Here, Mueller epitomized the Christian strong boy who embodied the values of kindness, respect, and integrity.

When Mueller graduated from Princeton, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.  DJT,  while at the University of Pennsylvania, paid little attention to his course work as he benefited from five draft deferments between 1964 and 1968.  The last one was a 1Y medical deferment for a questionable bone spur.

After Princeton,  Mueller became a war hero. He then spent the next two decades putting bad guys in jail.

After college, DJT perfected the Art of the Deal as he learned to beat the system in his constant craving for power and wealth.  He changed his party registration seven times between 1999 and 2012; he was a democrat twice, a Republican three times and an independent in 2000.

Mueller became the quintessential G Man 

DJT became the ultimate Con-man.

Mueller's report on the behavior of DJT is worthy of a full read.  It allows the reader to get their hands around the serial mendacity and cavalier disregard for truth that permeates this administration. It also makes it clear that the Russian government helped him win the election.

It chooses not to find Conspiracy in the Campaign's behavior, not because they didn't cooperate and accept assistance, but because the Office of Special Counsel feared they could not get a conviction because D.T. Jr. was possibly truly ignorant of the laws regarding foreign influence in our election.

It states that proving  conspiracy was hindered by a lack of cooperation with the OSC.  Many critical documents and emails were not handed over, often because they were auto-deleted.

Read the last 20 pages of Volume I starting at page 180.

Volume II is worth a full read.  It details the mind and thinking of DJT as he fights to get out of another jam. Each of the major accounts of obstruction  follow a prosecutorial discussion of (1) the obstructive act, (2) a nexus to an official proceeding, and (3) intent.  To any non-biased observer, these are slam dunks for any prosecutor appealing to a jury of peers.

Start at page 156 if you must, but don't miss the conclusion on page 182.  "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state"

In a few weeks, Robert Swan Mueller will testify before two committees in the House.  DJT and his Republican cohorts will do their best to make him look like a bad guy.

But we know who the real bad guy is.



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Friday, May 31, 2019

Our Next Horizon















This May, I stepped down from the Electric Utility Commission and from the Joint Sustainability Committee, thus ending my formal 20 year involvement as a city official and a wonk in local energy policy making.

Twenty years ago or so, I got a call from a City Council member of my fair city.  He asked me if I would be interested in serving on a city board or commission.  My public appointments at this time had been statewide appointments, having served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Under Governor Richards, I served on the steering committee of the State of Texas Energy Policy Partnership. I chaired the Renewable Energy subcommittee. Based on our recommendations, Governor Richards created the Sustainable Energy Development Council by executive order. Our job at the SEDC was to craft a strategic plan to develop the vast Texas Renewable Energy  resource.  From the Council's work, a vast network of power lines capable of moving energy from our vast west Texas lands to the population centers in the center of the State was recommended.

These transmission lines became the backbone of a renewable energy industry that would grow to be the largest in the United States.

Under Governor Bush, I served on the Texas Energy Coordination Council.  Part of our work was to see that the recommendations of the SEDC were realized. We also coordinated with the major Universities.

So in 1998, I became a city official serving on the Resource Management Commission.  In a year or so, I became the Chairman.  It was here that the politics and power of water rights for a fast growing city on a river became a critical debate.

By 2002, I had joined the electric utility of the City as a result of a grant from DOE and the State Energy Conservation office.  My job was to write a long term comprehensive energy plan for the City of Austin.  It was published as the book "Silver in the Mine".  For  the next dozen or so years, I worked at the Utility trying to make that plan a reality. As Special Assistant to the General Manager of Energy Development, part of my job was to develop a portfolio of 35% renewable energy.

When that was achieved, I left the Utility to serve on a City Council appointed Generation Task Force to forge an even larger commitment than the one the City adopted in the original climate plan. Out of that plan we determined that 55% renewable energy was achievable and affordable.  We also called for 600 MWs of utility solar which would replace the need for a new gas plant.

I  was then appointed to the Electric Utility Commission and elected as it's Chairman.  It was from the EUC that the recommendations of the Generation Task Force were considered and to a large part adopted and built.  Two years later,  another generation planning group, as a working group of the EUC, moved the renewable goal to 65% with 75% to be considered if affordable.

And here in Texas, it is affordable.  Wind prices hover below 2 cents a Kwh.  Utility solar has gone below 3 cents a Kwh.  No coal plant can compete with that.  And no gas plant can compete unless natural gas prices fall to 2 dollars /MCF.

And now the 8th largest Public Utility in the Nation is on course to be 85% to 95% carbon free within the next 7 years.  And that is quite an accomplishment.

Here is my letter to the current Chairman of the EUC:




May 10th, 2019


Chairman Cary Ferchill,
Electric Utility Commission
City of Austin

Dear Cary,

I write to inform you that as of May 15th I will step down from the Electric Utility Commission.

For the last 20 years, I have been active in local government serving as Chairs of the RMC, the EUC, and the Austin Generation Resource Task Force. During my time at Austin Energy, I wrote a Long Term Comprehensive Energy Plan for the City of Austin ultimately serving as Special Assistant to the General Manager for Energy Development.  During these decades, Austin Energy has grown from 10 MWs of wind and a few MWs of landfill gas, to a leader in the Utility Industry.

In the last resource generation planning group, we adopted a goal of 65% renewable energy by 2027, the closure of both Decker Steam plants by late 2021 and the closing of our share of the Fayette Coal plant beginning in 2022.

We should all be proud of our accomplishments up to now and to come.

The next big carbon goal for the city, our state, all of us, is to tackle the transportation sector.  This electrical transportation transformation will be good for our health, our pocketbooks, and our children. I am pleased to see the recent action of the Council on this.  Consequently, in founding the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance, I have made a decision to shepherd my own resources to that effort.

Since I also serve as the EUC’s representative to the Joint Sustainability Committee, the Commission will need to designate another representative to that important nexus of city commissioners.

The Commission will be facing many challenges in the next five years and I am confident that this EUC will meet those challenges with integrity and skill.

Respectfully,



Michael J Osborne

As the letter says, the work ahead is now in the transportation sector.

If you don't drive electric now, you should.  And in five years, you will.

Just like Texans developed the farm to market road system to bring our foods to market, and we developed an energy delivery system to bring affordable clean energy to our fast growing cities, we will also need to create an  energy delivery system to electrify our transportation system.





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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Americans



















It wasn't until its last season that I started watching the Americans.  In an age where the actual president is being investigated as a possible asset of a foreign power, watching the escapades of two Russian spies living just outside of Washington with their two kids chumming it up with the FBI agent who lives across the street seemed more than just plausible. I watched all 75 episodes in less than 2 months.

Set in the early eighties during the Reagan Administration, the series focuses on the personal and professional lives of the Jennings family, two deep cover Soviet agents placed in the DC area almost 20 years before.  According to one of the producers, the series works different levels of reality: the fictional world of the marriage between Philip and Elizabeth, and the brutal spy world that the characters live in.

Both characters are marvelously capable of changing their appearance with simple wigs and clothing.  Even though both are committed communists, Elizabeth has the most revulsion of the American capitalist system.  Philip on the other hand, likes driving his hot muscle car and playing racket ball at the health club with his FBI neighbor.  It's not important TV but it is somehow relevant in our present world.

First, Philip and Elizabeth are truly afraid that Reagan will annihilate their countrymen.  They are keenly aware that Reagan was trading arms with the contras while illegally dealing with the Iranians, and that the Americans (with a few exceptions) are often liars and untrustworthy.

Second, they really believe that their system is better for the world, that the ideas behind their revolution are better ideas than the ideas of pure unfettered capitalism.

Today, we have a government that is even more corrupt than the Reagan era.  It is erasing gains in the environment, in social justice, and in consumer protections.  It doesn't seem to recognize that Congress is an equal branch of government.  It is  contorting and abusing the Judicial system by appointing judges that cannot garner 60 votes in the Senate, so they are confirmed with bare majorities.

And like the Reagan era, they have little relationship with the Truth.  According to the Washington Post, they have spun over 10,000 lies in less than a 1000 days. And most importantly, they have spun the Mueller Report as an exoneration of their acceptance and use of Russian aid, all the while overtly subverting the investigation.

They argue that since there was not enough evidence of conspiracy to get a conviction, then there could not possibly be the crime of obstruction because there was no underlying crime.  I would argue that exactly the opposite is true.  If you read the Mueller Report, it is clear that not only was there purposeful obstruction and lack of cooperation by the administration, the obstruction was clearly successful in  minimizing and obfuscating their many acts of cooperation with the Russians.

One could argue that they cooperated more with the Russians than they did with Mueller.

The Soviet Union that Philip and Elizabeth risked their lives to defend passed away by the early nineties, the day after Christmas in 1991.  On the previous day, December 25th, Soviet President Mikhael Gorbachev, the 8th and final leader of the USSR resigned, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers, including the  launch codes, to the new Russian President Boris Yeltsin.  That evening at 7:32 pm, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag.

Everyone was giddy.  The Berlin wall fell.  The Americans had won the Cold War.

Democracy was alive in Russia.

But within a few years, it became clear that Yeltsin was not just an alcoholic, he was a boorish clown.  And a young KGB spy named Putin rose up to create a new Kleptocracy.

And in the 2016 election, the Pluto-Kleptocracies became one. And the same attorney general who got pardons for the Reagan administration is back defending his boss instead of the country.

And, we are  The Americans.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Bend the Light















Beginning in the early 90's, roughly 12 years after the 1981 announcement of the Reagan EPA that climate change was real and a danger to all of global civilization, I began to wonder if the world would actually act.  Early in the decade, we had the first of many UN sponsored meetings under the framework convention adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in June of 1992.

I had gone to New York that spring to participate in talks sponsored by the International Solar Energy Society.  There was talk of carbon pricing and carbon cap and trade, but no one was talking as radical as the actual EPA report which called for a 400 % tax on carbon and abolishing the use of coal altogether if we were to actually stop this climate train wreck in its tracks.  Obviously our regulators were more impressed with the end of the world as we know it back then.

It was during that time that I began to write about climate change ultimately publishing "Lightland: Climate Change and the Human Potential" in 2001.  It was also during that time that I began building my city of the future.  I called it Argonon.  It was a city designed to have it's own energy system, it's own food supply, an inner protective world, and a host of other sustainable features that would support its inhabitants through a very dark period of human development.  It was an Earthship for 250,000 earthlings of all ages and race. It would be full of the best engineers, scientists, farmers, artists, musicians, and dreamers.

The finished model ultimately took over the majority of my converted two car garage since turned into a futurelab.  (Today Argonon sits in its museum crates in the corner of the design lab)

But the key technological invention of the city was what I called an EMASER.  This Electro Magnetic Assisted Solar Energy Receiver was a laser device that would emanate energy into the atmosphere for the purpose of controlling incoming light.  It literally would intercept solar energy thousands of feet into the atmosphere and like the common place mirage on our highways and flat deserts, reflect the light by a few degrees.

These atmospheric mirages would be of dual purpose.  One, they would reduce the amount of energy hitting one part of the earth's surface, while increasing the energy on another part.

The strategy of Argonon was straightforward enough.  Because it was designed for the latter half of the 21st century when Climate Change had rocketed through the 2 degrees C set by global treaty, it had an array of EMASERs around its perimeter that projected laser induced mirages into the sky thus controlling the ground and air temperatures in the city.

And in addition, that bent light was shunted to the solar fields surrounding the city thus increasing the production of the panels through more solar flux.  It was a creme rinse and a floor wax.  But it was also a dessert topping.  An array of lasers of this power would also have immense defensive potential.

I rarely tell this story because it sounds like a NBA sized tall tale.  To document it, I even shot a video of our tests, but somehow my director lost the footage.  Nevertheless, with the help of several UT Professors in Engineering and Physics, we procured a small DARPA grant to test the concept of lasing the atmosphere to create a mirage that would bend incoming light.  If you don't know what DARPA is, you should.

We used a carbon dioxide laser and hoped to vibrate the carbon dioxide molecule in the experimental atmosphere to create the effect.  After several days of testing, our results were inconclusive. But I was not too discouraged.  By the time we had set up the experiment and the testing bed somewhere in the basement of the University of Texas Physics department, I had already determined that we would have to use an Argon laser.  After all, CO2 in the atmosphere is only 410 parts per million,  (headed to 500) while Argon is 30,000 parts per million.

Now, 30 years after the  Earth Summit, and 40 years after Dan Rather warned us on CBS evening news of impending calamity,  we have a minority elected US government that disdains the perils of Climate Change while simultaneously demanding a wall to stop Central Americans who are fleeing it.

And I find myself thinking and writing of EMASERS and EARTHSHIPS once again.

And thanks to advancements in Laser science since these tests,  lasing the atmosphere to control climate while powering solar fields might prove to be a solution for a world that because of 40 years of inaction, has traded mitigation for adaptation.


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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Lease the Wind





















About 40 years ago, I started working on developing a wind farm.  It would be the first in Texas and the second in the United States.

I had a lot of work to do.  I had to find a windy place with a 3 phase power line that could take the power.  And I had to get it connected. The Public Utility Policy Act had been passed and signed by President Carter in 1978 and with that law, Qualifying Facilities or "QF"s were allowed and even encouraged to plug into the grid and get paid for that energy by the utility at a fair rate called "avoided cost".

It was a revolutionary thing.  Since I had been on the PUC advisory committee that implemented PURPA, I was on pretty solid ground with these newly enacted rights that producers of energy using wind, solar and other qualifying sources now enjoyed.  But the law was new and utilities were not that excited about it.

Southwest Public Service was the utility in the Texas Pandhandle that I negotiated with.  And although quite conservative, they did ultimately offer a contract that represented their version of "avoided cost" which was the basis for the payment under PURPA.

I was 31 when the deal was somewhat complete.  I had  the lease agreement for the land (thanks to my cousin, Carl Kennedy, the county judge), the interconnect agreement with SPS for the production, the turbines had been ordered, and the financing was secured.

We began construction late in 1981 and we videotaped it.  Installation only took a very full week.  We also included interviews with Mr. Mack, the Coca Cola distributor who had two units in the same location, and Father Joe James, who put up 5 more units around his passively designed Catholic Church in Lubbock.

I used this documentary in my plenary speech to the National Solar and Wind Conference in Houston that next spring. The audio quality degraded for the first minute or so.






Since these early days, I  have been involved in the ever growing Wind Industry, securing leases for both wind developers and utilities, sometimes erecting wind monitoring systems to prove the winds, often working the legislature for tax abatements while arguing at the PUC for favorable interconnect rules and transmission line improvements.

During my time at Austin Energy, I helped oversee well over a Gigawatt of Wind Power in 14 years.  (AE now has 1850 MWs).

When I left AE and was appointed to the Electric Utility Commission, I approved over 600 MWs of Wind and another 600 MWs of solar.

Since the early 90s, like the late 70s, we  have had  Presidents and  Administrations that understood the wisdom and the importance of reaching as high a penetration of carbon-free energy as possible.  Life was not always good, but it wasn't bad.  It was rational.

But then, a not so funny thing happened on the way to dealing with the climate issue.

The Republican Party became the party of Intellectual poverty.  They nominated a pro-coal candidate who skillfully ran off with the presidential election with 70,000 votes to spare while losing the popular vote by 3 million.  And that victory has emboldened the very worst of the climate denying wing of what used to be a rational and responsible national party.

Nowhere is that more obvious than right here in Austin.  Our own heart of darkness lurks in its Congress Street headquarters spewing outright lies and misinformation fronting for their Kock-sucker benefactors.

They are trying to beat back the tide with a cane.

They are a pitiful, bitter old man who will pass with few friends,

and an army of enemies.

And they will be remembered for their crimes against their own.

They will Reap the Wind.

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