The Energizing America Podcast

EP 54: The Facts About Today's Energy Transition w/ Dick Storm

Episode Summary

On episode 54 of The Energizing America Podcast, Shane met with Dick Storm, the Founder and Senior Consultant of Storm Technologies, Inc. Throughout the episode, the two discussed how the coal/power industry has changed over the years, the facts about today's energy transition, and how important it is to educate about energy and where it comes from.

Episode Notes

Click here for Dick Storm's slides about energy, the future of electricity, and more: https://linktr.ee/wescominc

To learn more about Dick Storm, visit his LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-storm-00557810/

For more information about Wescom, visit: https://wescominc.com/

Episode Transcription

[00:04] Shane Stolp: Welcome to the Energizing America Podcast, where we talk all things energy and why we need it in our business communities in our lives. I'm excited to sit down today and visit with Dick Storm, who's had quite a career in the energy industry. So welcome, Mr. Storm.

 

[00:20] Dick Storm: Thank you, Shane. Glad to be here.

 

[00:23] Shane Stolp: You know, I've done some reading on LinkedIn with you and one of our employees had connected with you and he said, Shane, you've got to follow this guy. And there's a lot of folks we can follow online and there's a lot of information we can follow online. So I asked John, what tell me what's going on with him? Why do I need to read them? And so he pulled up his computer screen and he started showing me some of the research you had done. And I was really fascinated by just your long career that you've had in the energy industry. And particularly a lot of us are interested in just overall business, the challenges of owning and operating a business. And from what I could tell, you had built quite a thriving business. Can you give me a little bit of information on why what was going through your head when you decided to open up a small business?

 

[01:09] Dick Storm: Well, I was 48 years old when I went in business for myself. So the preceding 30 years or so, I was working for big companies and I always enjoyed coal power generation. And unusually, I'm one of the lucky people in the world that as a teenager I was fascinated with power generation. And I went to a trade school that taught power generation. And back in 1959, we were over coal power in America and I was a 16 year old that understood that. But anyway, I got fascinated with coal power, graduated from Williamson and ended up working for Babcock and Wilcox in barbarton, Ohio, and nuclear steam systems. When the Okooney nuclear plants here in South Carolina were being designed, they went into operation. At first one about 1970. And back then, nuclear was going to be too cheap to meter. But I just didn't like all that darn paperwork. And all the smart, experienced guys at BMW were coming to nuclear and special products where I was working, leaving the power generation division because coal was going to be dead in a few years. That was 1965, and nuclear was going to be too cheap to meter according to the head of the Atomic Energy Commission. So I was advised I was 20 something at the time, and my senior peers told me, dick, you really don't want to get into Cold. Those plants won't be around in ten years. That was 1965. I said, you know what, I'm just going to read everything I can. I'm going to work really hard. Certainly there's going to be enough of them to keep me employed for the next 40 years. And I was right. I stayed employed and made a lot of mortgage payments working in coal power generation. And I got involved in gas and I got involved in mining and I got involved in other things. But it all came back to coal power generation is where I made my way.

 

[03:28] Shane Stolp: So back in 1965, folks are telling you the coal industry is a dead. Industry has maybe got ten years ahead of it. This fascinates me every time I talk to folks that have been in the coal industry. Because you drive through the great state of North Dakota into Wyoming, there is so much coal available in this great country. And we over here in the Louis, Minnesota, a lot of it comes over here to the ports and gets loaded up on the ships and gets exported throughout the world, mostly even for our own use internally in our country. But there's so much negativity around that coal. So here you go. In 1965, you stay in the business. You eventually, in the 90s, start your own business, if I remember it correctly, and you build this business called Storm Technologies and Storm Engineering. You must have been throughout your life had people telling you, what are you doing in the coal business?

 

[04:24] Dick Storm: Well, actually we did pretty well. And one point along the way you asked the question, why am I passionate about teaching the public? And when we would go to a PTA meeting or a cocktail party or any kind of public setting, and people that I would meet new faces, they say, what do you do for a living? And I tell them, and you get this glazed look in their eyes like, you do what? And I'm a coal power specialist. I travel around and they knew I drove late model cars and my kids were dressed well and we didn't miss any meals and we had a good life. But anyway, nobody knew where the power came from. I went on a cruise on Baltimore Harbor one time with a professional American Society mechanical Engineers meeting. And the guy's fiance, really, really smart gal, pharmaceutical PhD, worked for a pharmaceutical company. And I said, what do you know about electricity? She says, well, it just comes out of that plug over there. That's why I need to know. My husband will know everything he needs to know. I don't need to know about this. And she was a very educated person, and she was typical of hundreds of people that I met through my career. And these people get wrapped up in the trash that the mainstream media, the government entertain. You can't go to Disney World without getting indoctrinated about how we're ruining the climate. They had the movie frozen. I went down there with my grandchildren a couple of years ago. I came away mad. I thought, you know, these Darn people are just telling lies and they're talking like carbon is evil. What's evil is what's going on in Ukraine and in Russia. Cutting off the power supplies. China and Russia are doing quite well using a heck of a lot of carbon right now.

 

[06:27] Shane Stolp: So how do you that passion comes from that that you see there's this crazy world full of misinformation. You're going to go out and do your part to change that. Has that been there all along? I mean, when was the cruise that you were on? How many years ago was that?

 

[06:46] Dick Storm: I probably got more involved in the public part. Probably around year 2000, I guess. Bill Clinton was president, and I think that were on Colby began under the Clinton administration, and Carol Browner was the head of the EPA. And I know what it was. It was New Source Review that got me all upset. And what that was is I specialized in improving combustion, improving efficiency, improving cleanliness of coal fired power plants. And when you do those kinds of things, sometimes you have to make changes, like adjusting the amount of superheat and reheat surface changes to the air heaters, changes to the burners. Well, there's a law that came out in the 90s called New Source Review. And what that did was it was designed to phase out coal plants. So if a coal plant upgraded upgrade was a dirty word back then. And if you upgraded to new coal pulverizers, that would improve combustion and improve efficiency and reduce emissions, you would be nailed with a terrible fine. And a number of utilities I worked with had that happen. Anyway, that made me angry. And that's when I started getting thinking, these people that come up with these laws get voted into office, and the general public doesn't understand what they're voting for and they're causing real problems for America. So I guess that's when I became passionate about teaching the public.

 

[08:31] Shane Stolp: But what's fascinating about it, Dick, is it feels to me like there's a bunch of us in our early 40s, mid forty s, and the generations coming up behind us that we probably think about electricity, much like the gal who was on the cruise with you, that we just go to the outlet and plug it in. We don't understand that there's an actual energy source behind it. So we get all caught up in this renewable energy conversation, and there's all kinds of research out there about this. It has been indoctrinated in us from day one. Oil and gas, fossil fuels, they're all evil. In fact, I asked somebody one day, can you even explain to me what a fossil fuel is? And the person couldn't do that. The conversation has been totally wiped out about the energy source. So when we talk about electrification of the future and we think about how coal could be such an important piece of that, it's fascinating how there's folks who have been around since the 60s who have been told that coal is going away. 60 years later, we're still using coal. And by the way, did you catch it? I think was it Germany this week that was decommissioning some windmills so that they could get some more coal out of the ground?

 

[09:42] Dick Storm: Yeah, my neighbors from Germany and he told me I also saw it on LinkedIn. Well, it's common sense. The energy density of the coal is a heck of a lot more than the wind, and it's reliable. I mean, we can burn coal cleanly. We can burn it efficiently. It's dispatchable is probably the key word that when you demand the power and you want to charge your electric vehicle or you want to drill a hole in something with your electric drill, you pull the trigger and you expect the drill to turn on, you hit the one button on the microwave. You expect your hamburger to warm up. That's dispatchable. And when I was a kid, the instructor told me, he says, the first law about electricity is the instant it is needed, it needs to be generated. And that's dispatchability. I had a course in Ali a couple of weeks ago, and I was making the distinction between primary energy and secondary energy. Primary energy is like gas, solar, wind, falling water, nuclear, coal, oil, gas. Their primary energy, heat energy. You use those in a device to turn it into mechanical energy that turns a magnet that goes through a coil of wire that makes electricity. Primary energy makes the electrons flow. And there was a gal that had a Tesla, and she raises her hand, she says, you mean the power for my Tesla has to be generated someplace else? She was a professional lady, like the pharmacist in Baltimore. I mean, this guy was sharp. She said, you mean that power has to be generated somewhere? Yes, ma'am. That power has to be generated in a power plant or on a solar collector. Now, in California, they tried solar collectors and wind in a big way. And when they were short on power, what the governor says is, I want you to not charge your Teslas because there's going to be a power shortage four or 05:00 in the afternoon as the sun starts setting. So don't plug your Tesla in to charge during that time, and it has to be generated someplace else. But primary energy we use is about 100 quadrillion BTUs every year, and that has been steady since about 1998. I've been following since about the time I got passionate with energy. The coolest chart that I've ever seen is the Sanki diagram that the Department of Energy does every year. And this is just facts. It's just physics. And America has used about 100 quadrillion APUs plus or minus ten. During the COVID lockdowns, we dropped down to 92. During booming economic times, we went up to 103. But it's been right out of 100 quadrillion BTUs. Primary energy, wind and solar in the best year together are 5% of that total primary energy that was delivered.

 

[12:59] Shane Stolp: That's not very much dick. So do you think that the reason why it's only 5% or 10%, though? What the media wants us to believe and what the renewable energy sector wants us to believe is the only reason why wind and solar is 5% of the overall mix is because we haven't made a large enough investment. Where does your mind go to in that argument?

 

[13:21] Dick Storm: No, we've made enormous investments of billions of dollars. The problem is capacity factor. What it says on the name plate and what it does are two different things. If it says it's 100 plate, that means it's a sunny day and the sun is shining, the surfaces are polished clean, there's no clouds in the sky, and it might be 100. Sun starts to move down from an optimum position. And not all days are sunny. So the capacity factor of a solar farm is about 23% to 25%. Arizona is going to be better than Minnesota, but at Pests they're about 25% or less. That wind farm, a really, really good wind farm is maybe 35% capacity factor. So you got to install three times. You got to install 300 wind farm to get 100 MW average. Because it's a 35% capacity factor, then you got to have it. When people like us want to plug in our electric drill or start our microwave, or turn on the TV, or mom turns on the broiler coming up on Thanksgiving, probably the biggest all you got in your house is your broiler. When you're cooking a turkey, might you use 25 or 30 amps? And when you want to cook that turkey is when you want to cook that turkey. You don't want the power company saying, hey, we got a domain control and you can't use that for right now. Maybe in about 8 hours you can turn on your oven. But anyway, capacity factor is a big deal. But the Wall Street Journal and I love The Wall Street Journal, but they had a video that said 90% of the capacity bought in the year 2020 is renewable. But it was true. And my local power provider here at Palmetto Electric says the Heritage Golf Tournament is powered by renewables. Well, they're really a strip. The biggest power generation they got by solar is three and a half megawatts. This island uses 186 summer day. The three and a half megawatts is not powering. 186 air conditioning and stoves and deep fryers and what have you. So anyway, the Wall Street Journal, the local power providers, a lot of woke companies are talking about renewables or what's happening and they've misguided the public that people actually believe this. They're lies. I hate to use the word lies, but they're lies. 5% is the real number. I mean, I didn't make that up. That is by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where they account for all the energy converted back into BTUs kilowatts worth 3412.6 BTUs. So for every kilowatt that's done by solar. They convert that back into BTUs and plug it into the total of 100 quadrillion BTUs. The same for the wind farms, the same for a pound of coal. If it's Wyoming coal, maybe 8500 BTU per pound. If it's Pennsylvania for two minutes, it may be 12,000 BTUs per pound. But anyway, all the BTUs that we use to make mechanical energy to either turn generators or to be motive forces for transportation, 100 quadrillion a year. And wind and solar did do 4.96 is the exact number, the 4.96%.

 

[17:13] Shane Stolp: And I might add that's after years of investment, I think my kids come home and they talk about this stuff they're hearing in school, and I'm like, Wait a second. Solar is nothing new. Wind is nothing new. These have been around for years. And the federal government and the state and local governments and nonprofits and all these folks, they have shoved millions and billions of dollars into this. And it's still only able to account 5% of our overall production if we think long term. And we want to increase that, and we have these crazy goals, and I would love to be in the room of the minds where they come up with this thing that we're going to be net zero by makeup year 2050 in America. We're going to be net zero. Well, how are we ever going to become net zero? Are we establishing an unrealistic goal based on a false hope? And the reason why I say that is because of the expense to get there, knowing that in America, we have enjoyed some of the lowest cost of energy in the whole world. And it is not long for me that that also equals our quality of life. So when we think long term, should we be considering the cost of energy in the energy transition?

 

[18:23] Dick Storm: Absolutely. And besides that, we still use plastic bottles. And when you buy a Tesla, it's got a lot of plastic in it. That plastic comes from hydrocarbons. And you're not going to eliminate the plastics on concrete. That's one of the most carbon intensive processes going. We still need to build new houses. We still need new foundations. And concrete requires carbon in the kilns for making concrete. And the cowsigners steel production uses coke. And coke is very important. I mean, you're just not going to reap. Those things cannot be replaced. You can't electrify plastic bottle manufacturing or concrete manufacturing or steel manufacturing. There are some steel manufacturers that are talking about using hydrogen rather than carbon, but it's going to be really, really expensive. And to make one unit of hydrogen, it takes four units of energy to make that unit of hydrogen. And what these people that are dependent on green hydrogen are dependent on is enormous amounts of windmills and solar farms that will have, quote, excess energy that they can use in electrolyzers to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules, disassociate the H 20 and you got to put four units in to get one unit out. And right now we're just barely making enough power to keep the lights, air conditioners and industry powered. There is no excess solar and wind.

 

[20:03] Shane Stolp: You know, it's interesting because a lot of folks will talk about our need to be more green and be more renewable and go through this energy transition, but nobody really talks about their willingness to step back from energy consumption. And to me, it's like if you're going to go through an energy transition, you better be putting the word consumption right next to it. And if you're believing that, you're marching towards it. I want to see you doing physical things like, unfortunately, around the world. You mentioned Ukraine and Russia and Germany and these different countries. They're forced right now to reduce their consumption because they've made poor decisions up to this point and if we're not careful, we could find ourselves there. So you talked a little bit in our earlier conversations about reliability and how important reliable electric is important for any civil society. There was an interesting stat you were throwing around about how the BASF has shut down their fertilizer plants, even in Germany, and it was just simply because the energy costs got so high. Correct.

 

[21:02] Dick Storm: You know, I read a really cool book called The Alchemy of Air. They gave the story about Hobart Bosch. Fritz Haber was a German Jew in Nine that invented that process where you use natural gas and carbon steel as a catalyst to make ammonia. And there were people really, really smart people like the head of the Royal Society of Scientists in England that said, you know what, we're going to start half the people of the world if we don't come up with a better way of providing fertilizer to provide food. And anyway, Hobart Bosch was born ten years later and Vaclev Smell, one of my favorite authors, has said today, if we eliminate ammonia fertilizer, which uses about one 2% of the total world's energy, mostly natural gas, if that is eliminated, we will eliminate about 4 million or eliminate food for 4 billion people on the planet. It's a big deal. I mean, there just isn't enough fertilizer and not enough food to go around. And the other thing they talk about, I get so mad when I look at stuff on LinkedIn where they talk about bio, biofuels. Biofuels to me is what 30% of our corn crop goes to making ethanol. That's nuts. And we got people starving on the planet and they're burning food and want to burn more. And you know, it's just crazy. But the BASF plant shut down. That's a big deal. And there's going to be some people in the developing countries that are going to have some tough times because of the energy crisis in Europe. And, you know, the fertilizer. I have a farmer friend in Missouri and we talked to him on the phone a couple of months ago and he would say, hey, I'm getting along okay, guys. Got 1000 acres. Well, you know, his John Deere tractor has 400 gallons of diesel fuel to fill up. I mean, it's a big tractor. And fertilizer prices had gone at the time three times what they were the year before. So you wonder why food costs are high. You wonder why the supply chain has a problem. I mean, whether it's food production or food distribution or fertilizer to grow from seeds, energy is planted right in the middle of that and most of it is fossil fuels.

 

[23:42] Shane Stolp: Right? And I think that's missing from the conversation. Now, we'll talk about the price at the pump, right? When a person is out in the public and you're filling up your vehicle, the guy next to you, he'll sit there and lament about the price of a gallon of gasoline. And at the same exact time he's going to the polls and he's voting for politicians who are the same exact ones who are causing fossil fuels to stop in his head, it's only impacting the price of a gallon of fuel. But I went out to the great state of South Dakota recently to pick up my annual beef cow. I order a cow from there, get it from the butcher, bring a home, fill up the freezer. This is 11:00 at night and I counted 38 combines out combining and at 11:00 at night, OK, those folks are all putting that diesel in there, right? And that's just the production cost. That's not even in the input cost like you just mentioned. But I bet if you grab the average person in a grocery store standing there buying their groceries, and you asked, what do you think is contributing to this cost increase that you're experiencing right now? They would say, oh, war on Ukraine. Well, that's actually not the real deal. It's the war on energy. And it is a real deal. We have forgotten about that war. And we can't solve the war in Ukraine and Russia until we solve the war on energy. And in order to solve that, we got to get way to the very root of the thing. So you had also mentioned it earlier that in your opinion, energy is just life. Like it's involved in everything we do. It's who we are.

 

[25:13] Dick Storm: The average person uses about 866,000 BTUs a day. For people like you and me, we live a little tattoo average. We drive a few extra miles. We got a little bit bigger house so rounded off, people like us use more than a million BTUs a day. So where did you get a million BTUs? Well, you use two gallons of gasoline to go 50 miles. If you get 25 miles a gallon. Well, that's right. At a quarter million BTUs, there's a quarter million out of your million. Allotment you have amazon, come deliver something to your house that Amazon truck runs on diesel. It was probably some products that were flown with a 747 jet freighter from China to the Amazon warehouse. Well, the jet fuel and the diesel fuel is attributed to you. We might use I'm in South Carolina. I love air conditioning. I need air conditioning. I can't live without air conditioning. Well, that's probably another couple of hundred thousand BTUs per day. But before I go out and cook some steaks on the grill, it's easy for me to come up with my gasoline consumption, my shipments that I've had, the food components that I've purchased, to easily come up with 700,000 to a million BTUs a day. Well, everybody does. You take 330,000,000 people in America divided into 100 quadrillion BTUs per year, and it comes out to right at 300 some million BTUs per person per year. Divide that by 365 days, you get right at 867,000 BTUs average. And the folks who live in apartments or retirement homes don't use as much as we do that live in homes and commute to work and things like that. But it's a big deal. And 87% of what we use is conventional energy. And the government is basically declaring a war on conventional energy. 80% of it is fossil fuels, 7% is nuclear. 20% is our electricity. 20% of our electricity is from nuclear. But of the primary energy, it only comes after about 8% nuclear.

 

[27:45] Shane Stolp: Why do we listen to our politicians get up and talk? These folks are the ones making the decisions in Congress and in the state governments up to Congress. They totally don't have this memo. I don't know what it is like in South Carolina, but over in Minnesota, we have lots of precious metals up here in northern Minnesota that we could mine to help build batteries for these Teslas and everything else coming down the lane, right? But they don't want us to mine, but they want the end result. So they want this result, but they don't want to get there. And I don't know, is that what you're seeing? That people are just misguided in that in the political scene?

 

[28:23] Dick Storm: I watched the governor's debate last night here in South Carolina. I love Henry McMaster, our current governor, but he's a lawyer. His opponent is a lawyer, and neither one of them have a clue about energy. I had a conversation with our state senator. I met him at a Rotary club. I got to be on a first name basis with him. We bump into each other. I don't think he likes me anymore. And he feels like here he is. He graduated in law near the top of his class. I worked in energy for 50, 60 years, but he after ten years being in government, he's a heck of a lot smarter than me on energy. I don't know nothing about energy compared to him, and they're typical. And I'll tell you what it really gets down to, is the lobbyists and the power companies, power companies are who my son's company has worked with. So I got to be careful what I say. But basically they're into whatever is popular coming out of Washington and whatever the rates and regulations people will give them. And there are incentives to put in wind power and solar panel solar power, because they get incentives and they can sell that power and get incentives and not be reliable. Anyway, they're chasing the money. They're chasing the incentives. And Florida Power and Light down in Florida, I have a friend down there, they are heavy into. They have said next year's is the company name now. It used to be Florida Power and Light. They got a couple of big nukes, old nukes down at Turkey Point, some of the oldest running, and I think they're planning on running them for 80 to 100 years. Hope they make it. But anyway, that provides some base power. And they've got a lot of gas turbines and they've got gas lines put in. But they have said we're going to take down our coal plants, we're not going to build anymore gas turbine plants. We're going to do all renewable solar and wind. And that's what they're going to do. But it's not the right thing to do. Let me give you an example. The good people in Hawaii voted on the Green New Deal before all the rest of us. And Hawaii is pretty democrat. And so Hawaii Electric goes 100% renewables, probably five or six years ago. They just last month shut down a very reliable 180 megawatt coal plant that we had worked at at Barbara's Point. They shut it down. Why? Because they hate coal. So what do they do? Well, they build a bunch of solar collectors. They build a bunch of wind in Hawaii, has pretty good winds. But you know what Hawaii doesn't have? They don't have an interconnection. There are a couple of thousand miles in the middle of the ocean. If there ever was an energy island, hawaii qualifies as an energy island. So what do they do to keep the lights on when the wind stops and the sun goes down? They burn diesel fuel. Diesel fuel, the most expensive fuel you can buy is what the and if you go to the EIA Electric rates in America, you don't have to take my word for it, but Hawaii Electric is right up there, thirty cents a kilowatt. And you probably pay twelve cents. I pay about twelve cents, and that's okay. And our politicians can do nutty things, but we're interconnected with other utilities that have just a tad more power than what they need. So they can send it on to the wires and we're OK. But the folks in Hawaii, when the sun goes down to wind stops, there's no interconnection. So what they do is they burn diesel fuel and boilers.

 

[32:35] Shane Stolp: And it's fascinating because when you're over there, I was over. There in February for the first time ever, and I couldn't believe how much. This is a huge topic over there that watch that light, turn the lights off. If you're leaving, close the door. Don't you dare run an air conditioner on and on. And it's like, folks, do you realize you could actually have a quality of life? And by the way, I don't think there's much carbon savings by burning the diesel fuel versus going the conventional way. And here's the other crazy part. They will be the first ones to import coal. Like, I believe it was Australia at one point decided to go to a more clean future, right? So then they just decided to rather than mining their own coal, they just import it from China and burn it, or they'll mine it in their country and they'll ship it to China to be burned. Folks, this isn't if we really wanted to care about our carbon footprint, we do a whole world analysis, because any carbon we're saving China and Russia, like your original point, they're just burning it for us. We're really not solving anything.

 

[33:34] Dick Storm: No, in fact, to that point on solar collectors in Europe, they were trying to manufacture their own PV cells. And I read on LinkedIn that they shut that plant down because it used too much power. The photovoltaic cells take energy to run the manufacturing facility, so they're going to buy them from China instead of manufacturing their own. And they got plenty of brown coal.

 

[34:06] Shane Stolp: You're actually not solving anything. You're just shifting the problem. And when you shift that problem, it comes at a large economic expense. And I think that's the reliability and the economics piece of it is hidden under this champion of climate change. RA. We got to do our part and all of this type of stuff. You can go ahead and subscribe to that, but you better understand step one and step two. And by the way, I think it's awful presumptuous of us Americans to think that just because we now have safe, affordable, reliable electricity, we should tell the rest of the world they're not allowed to have that. Don't you dare do that. You must be renewable now. Well, you know, we got to where we got because the pioneers before us, the folks like yourself, who worked in the coal industry and your dad and your granddaddy and his granddaddy who went and dubbed this stuff out and figured out how to use the God given natural resource to further the quality of our life, that's where this really started. You know, nuclear power is something that you also got you have some information on why isn't nuclear talked about? What happened with nuclear?

 

[35:14] Dick Storm: Well, the people that the utilities that run very successful, very productive nuclear plants like Duke Energy here in my state, my state of South Carolina, is 55% nuclear electricity generation. And there's ads in the paper and there's ads by the local electrical suppliers saying you get your power from green energy. No, the brunt of the power here comes from nuclear. Nobody wants to talk about it. And those nuclear plants, heck, I worked on one of them, OK, is 50 years old. I mean, it's very reliable, it's very robust, it's very efficient and it's around 50 years. And they hope it will run 80 or 100 years. But they ought to be building new nuclear plants. Well, we tried that in South Carolina and we had lots of problems. They had management problems. They spent $9 billion on a $6 billion, what should have been a $6 billion, 2200 megawatt power plant. And then South Carolina Electric and Gas threw in the towel and said that's it, we declare bankruptcy. Dominion Energy came in and bought up the assets of South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper that owned 40% of that nuclear plant just licked their wounds. And my wife and I had fallen what they call the minibond. We were very happy to get our money back from the mini bond. But anyway, that failed. And in the next state over in Georgia, they have the one single nuclear plant in America under construction. The Vocal power plant is loaded fuel and they're in hot testing right now. And I think it will start up putting power out on the grid by the end of 2023. I don't think it'll be 2022, but some time in 2023, I think the first unit will come on. 2200? MW. Well, that's only the first unit. That will be 1100 year after, hopefully the unit four will come on. We have shut down 102,000 coal and nuclear plants since 2010. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, all brag, especially the Sierra Club. Brags on how many coal plants they've shut down. Well, bully for them. And then there's people like Bezos and Bloomberg, billionaires, that give these folks millions, hundreds of millions of dollars to be against coal. And it's like, what the heck are you doing? What kind of Americans I mean, there's patriots and there's patriots, but that's not being patriotic. America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. We got a couple hundred years supply. We even got nuclear fuel. You're not too far from Wyoming. And in Wyoming we have nuclear fuel deposits. You know where we get our nuclear fuel from? Most of it comes from Russia. You can't make this stuff up.

 

[38:31] Shane Stolp: We can't. And it's fascinating to me because we will hear about how awesome it is that we shut down coal and nuclear plants to the point of 1020 million watts, but nobody talks about those. Well, we did get some replacement. We got renewables to take that place. But what they're not saying is we don't have on demand renewable energy and that piece of the generation needing consumption right away. You got to have storage if you're going to plan on renewables and we can't figure that out. That's going to take years for us to figure out how we could ever store that amount of energy. So the Sierra Club and these different environmental groups that come out and say, hey, that's fine, that we shut that alone because we've replaced it with renewables, look at how cute we are. Well, the reality is in the evening, like in California this year when the governor said, hey, guess what, you can't charge your Tesla tonight. The hilarious part is when do people charge their Tesla at night? When they're at home. Right. So I cannot for the life of me figure out how that conversation has gotten so far back. The only thing I can think of is as a country we've become so polarized that we can't pull our head up to actually look at true facts anymore.

 

[39:40] Dick Storm: Yeah, I've looked at the storage batteries, whether it's Tesla's hooked up at night. Of course, if the Tesla is charging the grid at night during the peak hours, that means it's not available for you to drive to work tomorrow morning. I mean, what they're looking at for batteries is minutes or maybe an hour so that the power company can start up against turbine to take the real load. Batteries just store power, they don't make power. And the biggest storage that we have in America is pumped storage hydro, such as the Bed Creek plant here in South Carolina. It's right at 1400 MW, or I think it's 10 megawatt now. And they're upgrading. That's where you take water from an upper reservoir and lake, a big lake, and you run it through turbines, water turbines, and you generate power. And then at night time when you have excess nuclear, that's what it was designed for, you run the turbines in reverse and you pump the water back up into the upper reservoir. And then during the peak periods, you let the water run back through the water turbine. And it's storage that is good for months, years. Long time batteries last for minutes, not hours. What we have in pump storage hydro, there's Raccoon Mountain TVA, and another one at Dominion is a couple of thousand megawatts. Total in America is around 18,000. Can give you the website for the FERC website, but 18,000 gigawatts, well, that's a lot. What we have in battery storage last I checked in California is 1400. Mean a coal plant that I used to work at, roxborough plant is right at 2500 MW. Niagara Falls on the US side does about 2500. Cross generating station coal fired power plant 100 miles north of where I sit. About 2300 storage in batteries across our country is less than 2000. We shut down 102,000 coal and nuclear capacity in the last ten years. I mean, the numbers just don't add up.

 

[42:14] Shane Stolp: They really don't. And I think one of the things why folks like yourself, beyond just having this deep knowledge that you want to share with the rest of the world. There's not enough folks like you who've experienced what you have. You've been around the world, and you've went to Africa, Australia, Jamaica during those international visits. You've seen what happens in those countries compared to America. What's the difference?

 

[42:40] Dick Storm: Oh, my gosh, you go to Asia. I've been to Pakistan. And the thing that impressed me there was in India, where the people use cowbone indoors to cook because they didn't have propane. You go to Africa and they're cooking on open fires. I mean, you improve the quality of life by having available energy. You improve the quality of life by providing jobs like a steel mill or aluminum smelter or a chip factory. But anything that helps people to live like you and I do requires energy. And I would submit about a half a million to a million BTUs a day in energy. And then you can live like Shane and Dick. You start living on in fact, I got charts in the UN, ExxonMobil, BP. All of national energy technology laboratories have done various depictions of gross domestic product and BTUs consumed. And I mean, it's a direct correlation between energy use and economic activity. If you don't use energy, you're poor. I mean, the Rotary magazine last June, what was June a year ago, had a picture of Mongolian people in Siberia, Mongolia, cooking indoors. And I mean, like, with open fire indoors with no chimney, and said, you know, we got to help these people. Well, yes, we do, but the first thing you can do to help those people is to give them a propane stove or natural gas or kerosene even. But, I mean, these people it's heartbreaking to see what's going on in South America, in Indonesia, in South Korea, India. There are people today, there's a billion souls on the planet that do not have reliable electricity. I mean, three times the population of America equivalent in the world that forget the fertilizer and the food supplies, there's this intermittent electricity. But we've got idiots in Washington that are trying to drive us so that we will be like the folks in Africa and Indonesia, and God bless those people. And I've gone over there. My cohorts have gone over there and done the best we could to help them move into the 21st century with electrifying those countries. But it's energy. And by the way, you know, who's providing the boilers and the generators in those China, and what we do when we fight against mining and we fight against electric use here, we drive the supply chain overseas. The aluminum capacity of China is now more than what we had when I was working for Alcoa. I did that 30 years work for them, 77 to 2012. More than 30 years. I love that company. They were some of the ones that sent me all around the world, and I watched them shutting smelters down after about 20 02 20 03 rockdale, Texas, had a huge smelter. They shut that down. They shut one down in South America. They shut several others down. Why? Because the Chinese were dumping their metal on the London Metal Exchange. It's better than counterfeiting dollars. And I got the data and I've put it in some of my presentations and on my blog of the rise of China on aluminum and steel production and the decline of America on aluminum and steel production. I told you a while ago, we use 100 quadrillion BTUs. What we've done is we've changed that. As our population has grown, our energy consumption has stayed levelized right at 100 quadrillion BTUs a year. Why? Because a lot of our industry went overseas. So then that electric capacity and that energy capacity could be used to power shopping malls and shopping centers and new houses without going above much above 100 quadrillion BTUs. But if we had all that aluminum and steel capacity over here, maybe we'd be 110 or 120,000,000,000,000,000 BTUs.

 

[47:07] Shane Stolp: It's too bad, because I think that folks like you are doing such an awesome job in this education piece. Here at Westcom, we're trying to get to the local elementary schools and talk about energy and energy production and our model. We're energizing america. People say, well, you're an electrical contractor. Who you energize in America? Well, we're in oil and gas. We see what our producers are up against. I see natural gas in Texas right now, or New Mexico, rather. Yesterday, natural gas was being they had to pay to get rid of it because the very people in Washington haven't allowed us to build enough infrastructure to get that cheap, reliable energy out to market to be used in a great economic way. But crazy things happen to privileged people. We in America have become an amazing society, and thankfully, we have like, I'm not willing to give that up. I think we're living upon the blessings of our forefathers who found this all out. But it's crazy that we've been lifted from poverty, and we have industrialization jobs, manufacturing, just economic prosperity here in the country. And we're willing to start throwing that aside, or worse, not allow somebody else to do it. And I really think if we can continue that conversation, that will help people bridge that gap, or that's my hope. I also think that as you think forward coal industry, you work for some companies, you end up creating your own engineering company. You got to feel pretty cool about your son has now taken over the reins of that company and sounds like he's running forward and he's doing a great job running it. And then you get to go tell the story of the energy industry.

 

[48:45] Dick Storm: Well, I'm proud of him, actually. I have three sons, and my middle son took over Storm Technologies, and he's doing a great job. And my youngest son works for the Electric Power Research Institute on these issues for electric utilities around the world. And my oldest son has another energy supply company and he's involved in coal fired power plants and catalysts to cleaning up the knocks in the back end of coal fired power plants. So all three of my sons were not going to do what I do because I had to work weekends and nights and holidays. But all three of them found, well, you know what, dad? It's a pretty good life, and you got to work crazy hours and you got to work hard and you got to do a lot of travel, but everybody depends on energy and electricity. So the Storm family has learned how to keep our head above water by participating in, producing and delivering energy, and we've done.

 

[49:50] Shane Stolp: Okay, well, I think you've done beyond OK, because the most important piece of our lives comes to be that we can build businesses, we can make money, we can pay our mortgages. But if we're forgetting to teach people along the way, if we're forgetting to bring people up behind us, then we find ourselves being exactly like the media is doing and the politicians are doing. We find ourselves subscribing to the wrong story, subscribing to something that has a false notion behind it. We're not willing to do our own stretch thinking. We're not willing to expand upon what we know to be right. All of that goes away. So I tell my kids all the time, you know, listen, it doesn't matter how big Wescom is, how profitable we are. What matters is what we're doing behind us. What kind of folks are we bringing up behind us? And what's the story that's being told? Are they understanding where we're going together? Because someday we all leave. And what's left behind us is the decisions that we made. And I sure hope that we can have folks like yourself and your sons and Storm Technologies and Storm Engineering keep telling that story. And I really liked the fact that you're out at the colleges, you're at the high schools, you're attending conferences, you're throwing your own money at this. You're active on LinkedIn. Dick, you could have just retired and went into the sunset. But the fact that you're willing to get out there and still talk about this says a lot about you and your family. I think this is missing, and I really want to say thanks for what you're doing to tell that story and to ask, please continue that story. I need it. My kids need it. My community needs it. My fellow business owners need it. The whole country needs it.

 

[51:22] Dick Storm: Well, anytime I can help, you know where to find me. I'm passionate and glad to do it. And I feel as a patriot, I have a duty to pass it on.

 

[51:33] Shane Stolp: Oh, you're doing a great job with it, Dick. I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us. I found this just fascinating about the south Carolina 55% nuclear generation. You've been in the coal industry back in 65. They're telling us it was going to die. Pakistan cooking cow dung indoors to cook. We got Hawaii on their energy island. There's a lot of nuggets in this podcast that we can use to help educate ourselves and our fellow Americans. So thank you very much. I'm going to stay in touch with you and we're going to do great things together.

 

[52:07] Dick Storm: Any time I can provide you some more facts and information, just let me know. I got a pretty good library.

 

[52:14] Shane Stolp: I'll do that. Thanks, Dick. Good luck.