Hi Speed Stimulus

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

Not quite finished looking at the US Stimulus package since it encompasses so many programs and so much money.? The latest aspect I’ve been looking at and indeed Emmanuel brought up on Off the Wall last week is rail.

The stimulus package designated 8 billion US dollars to high speed rail development on a national level.? Which made me want to see where they hope to have high speed rail service within the country… NY times Map to the rescue:

Of course many of us have heard about the California line and the significant amount of money they’ve approved there to develop? a TGV from Sacramento to San Diego. But some of the corredors I never heard about include the San Antonio to Tulsa line, or the New Orleans to Atlanta corredor. Even St. Louis to Chicago sounds far fetched at this point.

According to the media analysis and the so-called expert analysis, none of this money is actually going to make it to any actual high speed rail projects, except for maybe in the case of California.? The rest of the money will help get existing rail functioning at a normal level, doing the most basic things like making sure switches work and regular trains can pass going a reasonably fast speed. (reasonable for a 30 year old train)

One other thing I never knew about mentioned in the NYTimes article reads as follows:

Voters in Florida passed a constitutional amendment requiring the state to build a high-speed rail system, only to repeal it a few years later after several prominent businesses, along with Jeb Bush, who was then the governor, complained of its expense.

Mom Still Wants Panels

by bicyclemark 14 Comments

During my time in Portugal this month, my mother and I chatted about all kinds of issues of course.? Among them, the re-occuring discussion about how to make her roof back in New Jersey into a solar panel/film to produce energy for the house.? She spoke excitedly about a friend in central Jersey who apparently had her roof covered with a solar film and apparently the friend has a deal with the power company that whatever extra the house produces goes into the grid and she gets paid for it.

Despite this it still seems to far-fetched that my parents will have a solar film roof in this lifetime.? The costs associated seem to be astronomical. The programs that are supposed to help people afford such advancements are often full and people find themselves on waiting lists. Of course most of this reasoning is based on second hand info, I’d love to hear from someone directly as to how much it cost them and how well it works.

One thing Americans, and actually citizens anywhere could use.. is more help. Help in the form of bringing down the costs of solar technology for private homes. They spend trillions in Iraq and prisoners citizens of Fallujah now have biometric id cards and retnal scans, surely they can help American home owners afford solar panels.

And just as I say that we have the “Stimulus” package, which wouldn’t you know it – includes several provisions for green tech, clean tech, and alternative energy.? Among the points I think could make a difference for my parents and people like them:

  • Provides a total of $30 billion for such initiatives as a new, smart power grid, advanced battery technology, and energy efficiency measures, which will create nearly 500,000 jobs.
  • Provides $20 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next 10 years.
  • Promotes energy-efficient investments in homes by extending and expanding tax credits through 2010 for purchases such as new furnaces, energy-efficient windows and doors, or insulation.
  • Includes clean renewable energy bonds for State and local governments.

Not quite as exciting once I start making bullet points. But still, economic problems, jobs, even if we put that to the side for a moment. In the fight for cleaner energy, lower emissions, and sustainable living… the stimulus at least tries to do more. Who knows, maybe it can help some people turn their houses solar. Right mom?