Saturday, August 6, 2011

An Early Fall

The leaves are falling very early this year. Sales of the Leaf dropped 46% from June to July. Nissan sold 931 leafs in July and this certainly is pathetic for a new product launch to see sales peak in four months and then drop precipitously. No doubt the idiots who bought the Leaf soon after the launch were few and far between and now Nissan is searching desperately for a few more idiots to help them assure the Department of Entropy that using some of the US Government’s increased debt ceiling on the dumb Leaf plant in Tennessee is still wise.

If the Leaf dropped the Volt short circuited. GM saw a decline of 80% in sales of the Volt in July versus June. They managed to sell a total of 125 Volts. This is beginning to sound like the level of electric service out of an electrical socket in my bathroom. Actually I do have an electric toothbrush with a lithium ion battery so the comparison to the 125 Volts is valid. I have a GFI (Ground Fault Interruption) circuit for my bathroom socket so I do not kill myself brushing my teeth. Of course the Department of Entropy is also supporting the expansion of the Volt factory. Nissan and GM think GFI stands for Government Funded Investments. The Department of Entropy thinks GFI stands for Go For It.

Talking of government, I have an acquaintance named Andrew Tobias who is the Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. Andrew is a writer with a Harvard MBA and has written several books on personal finance. Andrew blogs at and he is so proud of his 3 kilowatt PV system he installed on his home back East. I sent Andrew the following email as he is the guru of personal finance after he posted the following on his site:

“The solar panels I installed last July have generated 4,066
kilowatt hours – nearly $900 worth. I can tap an app on my iPhone
from anywhere in the world to see how much I’m generating right now
(2880 watts)

There being 8,766 hours in a year, I’ve averaged about 450 watts an
hour – way more at noon than at midnight, obviously – which is enough
to keep four-and-a-half 100-watt light bulbs burning 24/7 all year.
Which I would never do. By way of reference, a ceiling fan might draw
88 watts, my light bulbs draw 23 watts or less, and I never use the
dishwasher (about which I have written importantly before). Here’s an idea of the power stuff draws. I got so freaked out watching my
electric meter spin when the dryer was on that now, when possible, I
dry my towels and sheets on the roof deck.”

I wrote this to Andrew

OK so you are the Green Machine On The East Coast but the following may
be deduced from your system:

You installed a 3 kw system and its total cost was about $20,000

After tax credits you invested about $12,000 in the system

As a finance guru you should demand a maximum of 5 years of payout on
your own capital so your marginal cost of capital is $2,400 per year

The government should demand a 10 year payout of their capital or $800
per year

The full cost of ownership is therefore $3,200 per year

You saved $900 in the 4,066 kwh produced over a year

Your added marginal cost to society for these 4,066 kwh is $2,300
($3,200 - $900)

4,066 kwh if generated by a state of the art combined cycle natural gas
generation station and including transmission losses would have a
maximum CO2 foot print of 0.9 lbs per kwh

You saved the planet 3,659 lbs of CO2 or 1.8297 tons of CO2
Using the marginal cost of $2,300 divided by 1.8297 tons your marginal
cost of avoided CO2 emissions is $1,257.04 per ton of avoided CO2

This is plain dumb use of money.

I never heard back from Andrew but will report if he does reply. I think that a guy who is a financial guru and has written books on personal finance should be a little more adventurous with investing money than my other friends who have installed PV on the roofs of their homes. These other folks know that if they put their money in stocks, homes, the bank, autos or simply pay exorbitant taxes they will earn nothing on their investments so investing in PV makes sense to my other friends. Andrew is the Harvard MBA investment guru who has written finance books. He should be able to get a 20% return on his money. The USA lost its AAA rating for Debt from S&P. I have the solution for Tiny Tim. Just take a triple A battery out of the TV remote control and power up the economy with millions of green jobs