Omaha-Lincoln Metro Area (Bellevue, St. Paul: to buy, camper, live in)
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Another reason why electric hybrids won't save us. We can't even meet the needs for our customers due to blackout overloads from increased demand on the grid.
And now Texas faces a big hole in its electricity production, since the country's second-most-populous state also happens to be one of the fastest growing because of immigration and the rise in riches from the recent increase in oil and gas prices.
That hole just got bigger as the TXU Corp., the state's largest utility, scrapped eight new coal-fired plants under a deal it has agreed to with potential new owners. The deal has delighted many environmentalists, but it has also stoked one Texas-size problem.
Unless new generation is built quickly from some source, Texas energy production in 2009 will fall below reserves recommended by the state operator of the power transmission grid for guaranteeing smooth operations during peak periods of high heat.
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/030407dnbuscoaljam.8983a0.html (broken link)
It also appears coal is getting less available and may run out by 2025:
Many of the so-called "alternatives" to fossil fuels rely on the electrical grid. We have seen the problems that nuclear and photovoltaics will face even delivering on their production promises, but even if they were to somehow solve those problems, there is still the problem of the grid itself. Most of the energy sources offered are simply means of generating electricity; this is applied to necessities like transportation through innovations like hydrogen batteries or electric cars. Even so, the electricity itself must be transported from the nuclear power plant, PV cell, or other means by which it is produced, to the car it will power, or the home it will heat, or whatever other task the energy is needed for.
That transportation is provided by the electrical power grid. Sometimes called "the world's biggest machine" by engineers, most of the energy "alternatives" proposed will require it to not only continue supplying us with the energy we use now (and the energy we'd need for economic growth anyway), but additionally to also carry the energy load we will need to replace our fossil fuel usage. This will be an impossible feat, since the current load alone is already breaking down "the world's biggest machine" under the weight of its own complexity.
Again these are the reasons why electric hybrids will not suffice. The grid is already strained from all this high demand that is being put on it. Coal will not be the saviour due to its lack of availibility to support all of us let alone its timeframe it takes to bring up in largescale.
H2 will be a viable energy source. I am convinced of that. Yes, you do lose energy along the way but the point is its renewable. The only missing piece is a large scale production of it...and between large scale wind power projects and the proper implementation of nuclear fission reactors (and who knows maybe in our lifetime fusion reactors) we'll reach adequate production levels.
Matt, neither of us will ever live long enough to see H2 become a viable, large-scale energy carrier, much less a substitute for petroleum. You're right about our respective stances. I'm sorry, truly I am, but you're arguing the issue from a strictly scientific perspective. I'm looking at it from an economic and pragmatic side.
Just as an example, the U.S. currently consumes just under 21 million barrels of oil per day. About two thirds of that goes to transportation. According to the EIA, gasoline consumption this summer is expected to be 9.5 million barrels a day. That's 399 million gallons a day (using the standard 42-gallon barrel of the petroleum industry). That's 114,000 BTUs per gallon (for regular unleaded). You need about 60 kWh and 2.5 gallons of water to manufacture the energy content of a gallon of gasoline in the form of gaseous hydrogen. That does not count the energy required to compress the H2 to liquid or transport it to its distribution point. So how many wind turbines or nuclear power plants are you going to need to provide the 12 billion kWh required to replace just half of that gasoline consumption? What will be their cost, much less the cost, in both capital and BTUs, of completely rebuilding the entire fuel distribution infrastructure of the United States and replacing the vehicle fleet with H2-powered cars and trucks.
And those numbers, BTW, did not include diesel fuel usage. Nor does any of this include natural gas, which is also in decline.
Again this all boils down to time. We just don't have the time to switch to a viable source. We should have done this decades ago and now we are in a transitional stage where we fight amongst ourselves for whats left.
Although this idea was tossed out years ago, perhaps it should be revisited. A single regional metropolitan airport located between Lincoln and Omaha may accelerated the development between the two metro areas. DFW and Minneapolis/St. Paul are examples where this has proven to work, particularly DFW, which is now the 4th largest MSA in the country in at 6.0 million people.
The only hole in this is Council Bluffs, which may protest the farther distance to travel. But Omaha Eppley is jetted up against the Missouri River with limited expansion ability. Whereas developing a single regional airport for both Lincoln and Omaha would spur development of suburbs between the two cities and around the airport.
The other problem is distance...Omaha and Lincoln are farther apart than Minneapolis/St. Paul and Dallas/Ft .Worth, but it maybe able to still work.
I want to add to this that the Bartlesville/Tulsa CSA are further from each other than Omaha and Lincoln, also the main determination for adding counties as an msa/csa county is the % of commutes to a core county of an MSA and population growth because of an MSA, check out these stats:
Saunders county an Omaha MSA county can be qualified as a Lincoln CSA county in 2000 and by now could be qualified as an MSA county for Lincoln.
Cass county another Omaha MSA county can also be qualified as a Lincoln CSA county because not only commute times, but alot of population growth on the west side of the county, including the city of Eagle (recent OWH article on this).
On another note: Saline, Otoe, and Nemaha counties are on the verge of being added to the Lincoln MSA... Gage county is on the verge to being added to the Lincoln CSA...
I agree these stats are based on commute times, that's why the Sioux City MSA in 2000 added two counties, Union, which is very legit, and then a rural nebraska country which upped the Sioux City MSA to around 150,000 people.
But the issue here is what's best for Omaha-Lincoln. A Single regional airport is probably the single driving factor that created what is known as the "Mid-Cities" area of DFW. In fact, in that space b/t Dallas and Ft. Worth, you have a population that probably exceeds that of Omaha-Lincoln, and Council Bluffs combined. In the 1970's when DFW Int'l was being constructed, it was nothing but prairie land in between Dallas and Ft. Worth.
Though Council Bluffs would not be too happy with moving Eppley to in b/t Omaha and Lincoln. And culturally speaking, OMaha, which is the larger of the two and has a much higher proportion of the metro area than Lincoln, 822K versus 283K, will have many in Omaha resistant to this idea as well since the geographic median center of the population of OMaha/Council bluffs is much more east versus the less densely populated Big McMansions to the west.
The problem with this is that Lincoln's uncompetitive fare structure with Omaha's airport increases the cost of doing business at Lincoln. Corporate looks into these stats when looking into corporate relocations. And the lack of marketing cooperation b/t the two cities is hurting Lincoln more. Omaha markets itself with Council Bluffs b/c of its close proximity. The rivalry b/t OMaha and Lincoln also hurt the two. Now dont get me wrong, I want all 3 cities to succeed...I'm actually from that region of the country...grew up there...great place, nice people, not too big, not too small.
And here's my opinion on CSA vs. MSA. I do think that MSA's do a better job of reflecting the more "urban core" of a principle city and its suburbs than CSA does. CSA expands the population and reach so much that it includes several rural areas that are quite distant from the urban cores than MSA's do.
Example: Des Moine's CSA...it reaches all the way out to Pella, IA. Now granted there are probably lots of people who commute from Pella to Des Moines, but it's so far out from the main urban counties that it really doesnt feel to be part of Des Moines anymore. I think most lay americans when asking for the principle city population wants to get an idea for the principle cities and its surrounding suburbs, but likely would not want places like Pella, IA to be included (or the county that Pella is in)...but this last comment is merely speculation.
Now one could argue that the exceptions to the rule mainly reside in the Northeast. This is where most of the cities are chained together in high density, and definitions of where MSA's start and end are not as well tabulated. The NE cities really like to promote the CSA populations b/c it props them up so much more at the expense of the Midwestern cities, Texas cities as well.
Another example closer to home for you guys since I'm assuming many on this list live close to Omaha is Sioux City's CSA. It includes Vermillion, SD, and granted the two are only 45 min. from each other, Vermillion to me just doesnt feel culturally part of the urban core counties...this is why I favor MSA's more, especially in the country's midsection. To me it's a more accurate reflection of the urban core, which is what I"m intersted in and perhaps many lay americans who ask about population of cities. They want to know the area population, which refers to the principle cities plus its suburbs. I hardly consider Vermillion a suburb of Sioux City. Now all these definitions, I realize, are based on counties and commute times, jobs, etc. But the MSA definitions keeps it much closer to the principle city than CSA's do, which include other PMA's into it.
It's really funny though, people will quote whatever benefits their area most. A case in point is the case of Atlanta. Atlanta, as everyone knows is a gamma world city just like Dallas, where I now reside. But Atlanta people will use their MSA stat of 5.1 million people. THough the city proper only has 483,000 people in it. THis makes Atlanta smaller than Louisville, Kentucky, Indianapolis Indiana, Milwaukee, WI, etc. There is not a single person in America that would think of Atlanta as being less major than Louisvill, Kentucky.
Now from Dallas, we use our MSA stats too, b/c it makes us 4th largest in the country.
Houston will use their proper population stats, which makes it the 4th largest city in the country, but area population drops it down to 6th largest MSA, and I talk to Houston peeps all the time, they claim themselves as #4 largest city, which is accurate, but when someone from Sugarland says that, it tells me that Houston's Convention Bureau has done a great job at marketing.
So here's my take on all these definitions: I think city limits population has a limited role in defining "urban". In Atlanta's case, it's not a true representation of defining it as a major city b/c then you can argue Omaha is just as major as Atlanta, an no lay American would perceive that to be the case. Another point is Dallas vs. San Antonio. San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the US, but its MSA drops it down to the upper 20's whereas Dallas' MSA puts it at #4.
I think MSA's are great, I like the definition, it doesnt go too overboard with including too far out rural counties.
There is a role for CSA's, though I"m not as big of a fan of it b/c it hurts Midwestern and TExas cities more from a marketing standpoint overall and favors the Bay Area, and East Coast cities more.
Last edited by metroplex2003; 05-12-2007 at 05:33 AM..
Matt, as much as I hate to admit it, I have to agree with Coaster and Cordor. Oil production in the U.S. peaked in 1970 and many major oil producing nations have also seen their peak or are very neer it. There have been no major oil finds like the big ones that supply over half of our oil supply (Gwhar, Cantrell etc...) in many years. So oil is out. currently wind and solar provide less than 1% of our energy needs. Our demand for energy will even out grow what is made in new wind mills so will probably remain at 1% or less for ever. Im not supportive of the idea of forcing 100 people in less fortunate nations just to fill up a tank in someones SUV. I guess, thats just me. And Hydrogen. Duh! It takes more energy to produce it and store it than you get by burning it. It is a net energy looser! So yeah, urban sprawl not the way to go. It makes me sick to see how far sprawl has gone up here in the Twin Cities area. All the nice forest and lake areas North and West of the rings and rings of suburbs are being torn up for new subdivision, McMansions, malls, and traffic choked freeways. Barff! It take two hours just to drive from one end of the city to another where the suburbs stop in light traffic! I would hate to see SE Nebraska turn into a Minneapolis/St.Paul type metro area. I think the two cities should focus on re-developing the inner cities, making them more dense and attractive, mass transit, and set growth boundaries so they dont merge!
Don't worry Isaysos, Matt will get his dose of reality very shortly. I know gas prices have gone up exponentially but it is due to refinery bottlenecks. Oil supply is sufficient in america for the time being and is not what is causing the gas prices to jump like they are now. If it wasn't for these refinery problems which demand hasn't helped, then gas should be currently around $2.55 according to oil prices. It is only a matter of time as depletion hits the world (which is doing now since the highest we ever extracted was 85.5mb in May of 2006) that we will be seeing not $3.27 in our area but more like between $5.00 and $6.00 by 3rd quarter of 2009 and that is an optimistic guess. Oil is currently depleting ar a rate of 2% and should climb exponentially higher by next year.
Hey, let's not beat up on Matt. His beliefs and confidence in the power of capitalism and science to solve the problem are sincerely held, and his inability to recognize the problem isn't at all unusual among the large mass of people. I personally hope he's right. I don't think he is, but I can hope.
The fact that a PhD chemist who has done work on H2 storage devices doesn't understand the difference between an energy source and an energy carrier is a little worrisome, but that's just me.
First, its PhD in physics...not chemistry. Second, I understand the difference between an energy carrier and an energy source! For crying out loud, read my posts. The problem is I was being literal, in a scientific sense, about energy.
Oil is no more of an energy source than is a compressed spring (or H2). The difference is the energy stored in oil occurred millions of years ago. It too is just an energy carrier. H2 is also an energy carrier...the difference we need to convert certain types of energy (like nuclear, solar, wind) to chemical energy.
I understand it but thanks for the concern.
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