General Motors Commandeering Cheap Hydro-Electricity

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General Motors Commandeering Cheap Hydro-Electricity

Post by Pat »

Here is a reaction to one of the reference materials dredged up by John Karls in his usually thorough manner, for which I thank him.

The “Reference Materials” section of this bulletin board contains a Car and Driver article. In the fifth paragraph of the section of the article entitled “But Will It Really Change The Game?”, General Motors admits that the Volt “won’t be available at every dealership right away” and, instead, “dealer allocation will follow a ‘focused’ program.”

In the last paragraph of that section, General Motors estimates that the cost of re-charging the Volt DURING OFF-PEAK HOURS would be about 10 cents/mile less than the cost of a comparable gasoline engine with gas at $3.60/gallon.

Obviously, the “focused” approach of General Motors will be to concentrate on dealerships in geographical areas served by hydro-electric dams because hydro-electricity costs a small fraction of the cost of electricity produced from a conventional coal-fired electricity-generation plant.

For anyone who might wonder why this is true, no dams have been built in the U.S. for many decades and, accordingly, their initial investment was incurred long ago for very small dollar costs that have long since been recouped. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, while the cost of coal is usually a fraction of the cost of crude oil (partially off-setting the cost of losing 75% of the energy content of the coal in the conversion-to-electricity process, BUT NOT OFF-SETTING THE RESULTING 4 TIMES MORE GREENHOUSE GASES), the energy being converted to hydro-electricity is the force of gravity on water falling from the reservoir behind the dam through electrical generators AND THE ENERGY FROM GRAVITY IS FREE!!!

So just as obviously though refusing to admit it, General Motors is cynically planning to “swipe the low-hanging fruit” by “focusing” its marketing on the low-cost hydro-electric market.

The result, of course, will be that electricity users in those hydro-electric markets invaded by General Motors will have to purchase from other non-hydro sources the amount of energy commandeered by the Chevrolet Volts.

The overall result for the economy, of course, is that the total amount of electricity squandered by Chevrolet Volts will, on a with- and without comparison basis, have to be produced by new coal-fired electricity-generation plants.

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Kudos for Pat

Post by solutions »

One would think that the obvious drawbacks of the Chevrolet Volt would make it unpopular.

Human nature being what it is, most owners would forget (or not bother) to re-charge their Volts every night and wind up doing virtually all their driving using gasoline to generate the electricity needed to propel their Volts. That, of course, would mean their gasoline fuel costs would be 400% of the fuel costs of a comparable gasoline-powered automobile because of the 75% loss of energy consumed in converting the gasoline to electricity.

However, General Motors' obvious strategy of "swiping the low-hanging fruit" by targeting their marketing to areas that have low electricity costs because they are served by old hydroelectric dams probably means that the Chevrolet Volt will be successful enough in those areas that the GM investment in the Chevrolet Volt becomes large enough that it takes the place vacated by the Hummer and other gas guzzlers as the economic albatross threatening the survival of General Motors. By the time that General Motors (and its political masters in Washington) recognize that the Chevrolet Volt will never occupy more than a very small geographical niche market, GM's over-investment in the Volt will produce GM's next bankruptcy.

From an environmental viewpoint GM's next bankruptcy will be a blessing because all the hydroelectric power that the Chevrolet Volt has commandeered can go back to being used for other purposes. Hopefully, the new coal-fired electrical plants that were constructed to serve the nation's overall increased demand for electricity due to the Volt can be retired and turned into National Monuments commemorating silly Washington policies!!!

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