By Published On: May 20, 2011

All the rain and pollen has sent a torrent of customers to Dr. Snarky Sparks’ officemate, Dr. Shrinky. Seems that love also is in the spring air, and with it much angst. It was “Roses are red. Violets are blue. We just love you,” for Yakout Mansour this week. The outgoing California Independent System Operator chief executive officer received an engraved plaque. The stakeholder proffering the symbol said, “Yakout, we love you!” The headquarters for keeping the lights on in the state is not normally a place where signs of affection are on display. Independent Energy Producers executive director Jan Smutny-Jones followed the parade without raining on it. “I don’t have a plaque because it was subject to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission refund.” Obvious signs of affection were on display elsewhere. In response to the federal government’s embrace of compact fluorescents at the expense of less-efficient incandescent bulbs, a South Carolina legislative committee opened its arms to the spurned incandescents. The Southerners are promoting the sale of the bulbs within the state, and wants the excessively heat-emitting globes stamped with “Made in South Carolina.” After Dr. Shrinky suggested going to an Internet dating service for matching up spurned incandescents with “Lobbyists for Love,” the spring client parade turned to Dr. Sparks’ office. There neither sparks of love, nor sulfur, are the doctor’s mainstay. As bad as most M.D.’s handwriting may be, doctors rarely write in erasable ink. In a memo discovered by California Public Utilities Commission in its probe of Pacific Gas & Electric gas pipeline safety records, some of the utility’s documents were written, indeed, in erasable ink. When the matter came to light in late 2007, PG&E management ordered staff to write all maintenance and operation records in “permanent ink.” When queried by the San Francisco Chronicle about the matter, PG&E’s spokesperson stated, “PG&E is constantly looking for ways to improve practices and procedures. This is simply one of those instances.” In another state, a large energy company would have rejoiced at an irascible M.D.’s signature or erasable ink--the online equivalent, that is. Earlier this month, Peabody Energy’s website was hacked. A fake press release then was issued stating the company launched a “Coal Cares” initiative. It was said to be designed to “combat the stigma of asthma among American children.” It included an offer of free inhalers (no need for Dr. Snarky’s invisible autograph) for kids living within 200 miles of one of the coal-fired plants, along with coupons for asthma medication. The faux press release offered enticing inhalers ranging “from ‘tween faves like the ‘Bieber’ and ‘My Little Pony’ to ‘Emo’” and ones geared for lung-clogged toddlers labeled “My first inhaler,” according to CNN. The hoax was reportedly perpetrated by a clean air group called: Coal is Killing Kids. While Dr. Sparks is on the subject on inhalers, actually inhaling, a study released last month evaluated a little-studied big-energy suck. Despite its use for medicinal purposes, new to the list of energy hogs is indoor cannabis production. The high energy use is attributed to the intense round-the-clock lighting, said to be on par with hospital operating rooms. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory April report concludes that “indoor cannabis production results in energy expenditures of $5 billion each year, with electricity use equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes.” The author of the report, Up in Smoke, notes that marijuana cultivation can be vastly improved if moved outdoors. “Cost-effective efficiency improvements of 75 percent are conceivable, which would yield energy savings of about $25,000/year for a generic 10-module growing room,” it states. Dr. Snarky was not alone in suspecting the motive behind the study. It “simply aims to quantify a previously undocumented component of energy demand,” the author stated, with much-relived chronic pain, exhaling springtime love for all.

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