What is your counsel?

Question: What is your counsel?

Jim Woolsey: Well individuals are citizens and can write in and encourage things, and speak out, and write up in the paper and so forth.  They’re also voters so they can get in touch with their individual Congressman.  And a lot of them are also shareholders through mutual funds or otherwise of automobile companies, utilities.  The other day I just got an email from a solar company that says Connecticut and New York have great provisions for integrating rooftop solar into their grid, and Pennsylvania just won’t hear of it.  Well you know, if you’re a shareholder of Pennsylvania Utilities, you can get in touch with them and say, “Hey, what’s with you guys?”  So there are various things I think that one can do.  There is an outfit called Plug-in Partners, and that’s their URL –  www.pluginpartners.org, I think – that is taking soft orders for plug-ins to ship off to automobile companies and so forth so that no one can say there’s not an interest in plug-ins.  As you can tell, I genuinely think plug-ins are going to have a huge impact.  Once people realize that they can not only go into a showroom and buy a reasonably priced car, that they can plug-in to their garage socket, drive for much of the day on effectively a penny a mile electricity – because off peak, overnight power is about a nickel a kilowatt a hours in the country; five-kilowatt charge.  Say it’s something between one and two cents a mile.  Nevertheless gasoline now is 10, 12, 14 cents a mile.  So you’re driving at something close to 1/10 the cost that you’re usually driving.  That makes a big difference in some people’s budgets.  And the other thing is that there’s a concept called V2G, or “vehicle to grid”, in which after you’ve charged your plug-in hybrid . . .  Let’s say you get it charged by midnight, you have a timer on it, you can make it available to the utility from midnight to 6:00 a.m. when let’s say you leave for work, for stabilization of the grid, and for what you call spinning reserves – that is power outages.  Those two together are only about five percent of what utilities need to buy, about 12 billion dollars a year worth of fossil fuels.  Mainly natural gas, because natural gas tends to be what’s turned on and off quickly since it’s amenable to that.  Well that amount of money, if it’s divided up fairly between the utilities and the consumers . . .  There’s a professor at the University of Delaware, … who is writing articles about this and saying, you know, do you realize that can be something in the range of $2,000 a year for the owner of a plug-in hybrid?  Now let’s think about this a minute.  Not only am I driving at a tenth of the cost, but somebody’s paying me close to $200 a month?  Heck, that’s a major share of my car payment.  Just to leave car plugged in overnight?  Hey, where’s that dealership?  (Laughter)  So I think once … And different utilities are interested in this to different degrees.  But in California, if you talk to PG&E for example, they are really enthusiastic about this concept.  So there could be, I think, substantial interest in a lot of people in moving toward plug-in hybrids once they’re available.

Jim Woolsey counsels more direct activism in promoting new approaches to old problems, especially to promote alternative energy.

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