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incentivizing green
Old 09-29-2007, 12:27 PM   #1
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incentivizing green

I just read a brief article that talked about the five milligrams of mercury in florescent bulbs and the subsequent problems with recycling those bulbs. It seems to me that one way to incentivize recycling these bulbs might be to offer one free bulb for every five dead bulbs turned in at the hardware store. This could be paid for by simply raising the price of all new bulbs a bit (I know, I know, it's not really THAT simple). The beneficiaries are those who are conscientious about buying and recycling. The losers in this scheme are those who remain passive or indifferent to financial concerns. Their choice. (I think there is a forced battery recycling program where one must turn in an old car battery to get a new one; doing things thru positive--financial?-- incentives would work better to my mind. The gov't control aspect that so grates on some folk's nerves could be reduced.)

One other quick thought was incentivizing car purchases: if one bought a green car/truck that got higher mileage and/or better emissions one could/should get 10% off the retail price. We already have this roughly in effect with hybrids (although this incentive is slowly being phased out) and their rebates. But . . . it would be nice if this could be made permanent and extended further, say for instance "everytime you buy a new "green" car you get an extra 5%-10% off above and beyond your previous discount. This would mean that your second or third Prius would maybe have a 20% rebate instead of the original 10% one. All those folks that love buying new cars regularly would have a new type of incentive. This might also accelerate the number of used green cars on the roads--driving their prices down for folks who always buy used. This--sort of--favors the rich and the poor

This could be paid for by raising vehicle prices across the board by a few percent initially and gradually rising. After maybe ten-twenty years of this, one could just drop the entire program. There would be a significantly higher percentage of green vehicles on the road and folks wouldn't be so frightened of the change transformation of society. Car companies would be able to make the transition a bit easier and actually see a green light at the end of the tunnel in the earlier stages of change. They would fight it less--IMO--as would customers.

Thoughts about this idea? Other incentive ideas?
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Old 09-29-2007, 12:53 PM   #2
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Flourescent bulb idea: This might work, though there are possible unintended negative consequences. Unless the laws of supply and demand are suspended, all increases in purchase price will reduce the number of bulbs sold sold. Each bulb sold in an area using coal as the power source (which is most of the US) results in a big net decrease in mercury in the environment--even if the bulbs are broken open and the mercury let loose. So--it's possible that the well intentioned scheme will result in a feel-good effect with a net increase in mercury release. (Imagine that!).

In addition, it would be much less cumbersome to just institute a deposit on the bulbs, rather than physically swapping old for new.

Any scheme that provides a ready made market for old bulbs (whether payment is cash or bulbs) will increase the theft of bulbs (from hotel rooms, public areas, etc). Some landlords will switch to incandescents, esp if the tenants are paying the bills.

Vehicle rebates--These are already being abused. If decreased gasoline use is desired, then put an increased tax on gasoline. Some people have truly justified reasons for driving cars that others consider inefficient. The defiintions of "green" would be arbitrary, and the administration would be a PITA. Most significantly, taxing fuel assures the gas guzzler driving 100K miles per year is paying proportionately more than the one driven 10K miles per year. And, even the Prius driver will pay more for wasteful trips.

If we keep the present laws in place, then vehicle emissions will be roughly proportional to fuel burned. So, the gasoline tax serves to "punish" polluters, too.

And, a gasoline tax hits those who purchase inefficient used vehicles, not just the new vehicle buyers. A gasoline tax will also cause people to trade in/junk their present, less efficient vehicles sooner, resulting in the construction of more new vehicles. New vehicles require a lot of energy to build, so (again) the net true environmental benefit of a gasoline tax might be less than anticipated.

Keep it simple . . . Markets work
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Old 09-29-2007, 01:17 PM   #3
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I agree with Samclem...

Most schemes designed to 'do well' just don't... there already is a financial incentive to use CFL bulbs... but one of the problems I have is that the stated life just does not seem to be what I am experiencing.. I bought a pack of 5 at Sams a few years back and all but one was burnt out in less than a year (that one is in my mom's kitchen)...

And my second batch is going better, but they have been turning very yellow. I have bought one that is a 'white' light, at a higher kelvin, but it looks 'strange' (don't know how to say what it does, but it did not look natural).. but I have gotten used to it and will be buying me some more soon, but it costs a lot more than the normal ones.

As for cars.. yes, raise the tax. You don't even need to raise the fuel economy required for the manufacturers as the market will take care of that with a 50cent a gallon tax... and that tax should be required to be used to 'fix' all the highway and bridges etc... (maintenance!!!, not new). Here in Texas they are complaining that they do not have enough money which is why they want to go to TOLL ROADS



As an aside.. there is this younger guy up at work who thinks green... he keeps telling us 'we need to do SOMETHING'... he does not think through the consequencies (sp), he just wants to DO... kind of like the corn subsidy for ethanol, sound good, but it is not...
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Old 09-29-2007, 01:58 PM   #4
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I'll third it.

For cars - you are making it too complex greg, and not even addressing the issue. If we want to conserve oil, TAX OIL. Taxing low MPG cars is convoluted - it does not really provide an incentive for people to drive less, after all, they 'paid for the right' to drive their car.

Tax the oil, and not only will people make better decisions on vehicle purchases, but they will think about driving less, carpooling more, move closer to work, telecommute, use public transportation.
It hits their pocket book for USING OIL, and that is what you want to do, right? Then do it - don't beat around the bush!


Deposit and refund to help recycle CFLs makes sense. It worked pretty well for bottles, right?

Two things I am firmly against: rebates for hybrids, and outlawing incandescent bulbs. But I need to conserve some time - will explain later

-ERD50
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Old 09-29-2007, 02:14 PM   #5
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Plus, I think at a macro level, you're wasting more resources to buy a new car than to continue nursing along an 'ancient' car or at least buying any used car.

An alternative solution would be rebates on buying used cars, but then that whole setup would sound rather wacky.

>Deposit and refund to help recycle CFLs makes sense. It worked pretty well for bottles, right?

Well, that 10 cent deposit in Michigan meant that we always walked with bags to pick up cans we found. If we weren't incented to pick up other people's trash then, as a kid, I'm not sure I would have bothered. Even now, the only time that I actually feel the need to pick up after others is when I'm out geocaching.
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Old 09-29-2007, 02:16 PM   #6
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> I bought a pack of 5 at Sams a few years back and all but one was burnt out in less than a year

Texas, what brand was that? It might be worth trying some other brands. I think we use a regular ol' GE or Philips CFL... not in every socket, but some of the ones that we have on more often. The one by the garage (auto-on at dusk) has been going for about 3 years now and the others are about 2 years old. Still too early to tell. We got rid of the CFLs in some places because, like you, we didn't like the color.
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Old 09-29-2007, 04:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Webzter View Post
> I bought a pack of 5 at Sams a few years back and all but one was burnt out in less than a year

Texas, what brand was that? It might be worth trying some other brands. I think we use a regular ol' GE or Philips CFL... not in every socket, but some of the ones that we have on more often. The one by the garage (auto-on at dusk) has been going for about 3 years now and the others are about 2 years old. Still too early to tell. We got rid of the CFLs in some places because, like you, we didn't like the color.
Heck, I don't remember.. some generic packing with "American" something or other...

My yellow ones are GE 26 watts.. the white one is Lights of America (hmmmm are they the same??) 23 watt... and it has a brighter light. It was listed somehow as a 'sun' light.. don't remember and do not have the box.
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Why I hate hybrid rebates...
Old 09-29-2007, 09:43 PM   #8
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Why I hate hybrid rebates...

OK greg, I'll take a stab at this now.

First we would need to agree to this hypothetical situation:

----------------------------------------
Congress is presented with two plans designed to encourage OIL conservation. They are both incentive plans, only one can be approved.

PLAN A:
Flag $1M for incentives, this is expected to reduce oil demand by 1M barrels.

PLAN B: Flag $1M for incentives, this is expected to reduce oil demand by 3M barrels.

Would we praise Congress for approving Plan A since it saves 1M barrels? Or should we criticize them for NOT approving Plan B, effectively wasting 2M barrels?
----------------------------------------

That is how I view the rebates for hybrids to the public. That money could certainly be better used. Look at how ridiculous it is:

A) As discussed previously, moving from a good MPG car to a higher MPG car does not save so many GALLONS of gas. I'm sure that most hybrid buyers were already fairly 'green', so this does not add up to much savings really.

B) So, very rough numbers, let's say an average conservation minded person drives 30 minutes to work and 30 minutes back, and some trips on weekends - roughly an hour/day of driving. That means that the NIMH batteries, and that motor and controls that the government helped pay for, sit around for 23 hours a day doing nothing at all! I wonder if a hybrid ever pays back the energy it took to make the batteries, controller, extra drive mechanisms, and motor?

Now, criticism is OK, but solutions are better. So I will make a suggestion. IF (and this is a BIG IF in my book), we think incentives for hybrid technology is what we should do, let's put the money to work where it will actually provide more benefit. More bang for the buck:

While those Priuses (prius-i?) sit in an employee parking lot, I see the mail truck, the Fed EX and UPS guy traveling many more hours and miles than the typical commuter. And it is mostly stop-and-go driving, the kind that really can benefit from hybrid technology. If I was in the city, I'd also see busses and taxis fitting this profile.

So - why not give the incentives to high annual mileage, stop/go driving vehicles and get some real (hopefully) payback?

It seems like a colossal and foolish waste of money to provide incentives to commuters to buy hybrids when there are better applications for that money. It appears to be just another 'feel-good' program. They ought to just hand out 'I'm green' decals to anyone who wants them - it wouldn't cost as much and we could all feel good about wearing our decals.

I'll tackle incandescent bans another time....

-ERD50
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:59 AM   #9
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Deposit route should work. But da** people will not leave the old ones on the back porches (do they even have many back porches any more) for the more industrious kids to get (boy, I can remember those days, bottles $.02 deposit and Coke at the stores a nickle).
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Old 09-30-2007, 09:21 AM   #10
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....So - why not give the incentives to high annual mileage, stop/go driving vehicles and get some real (hopefully) payback?...-ERD50

Good point. Making an already relatively efficient compact car more efficient is not the best use of resources. You gotta look at look at where the majority of fuel is being used.
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Old 09-30-2007, 02:52 PM   #11
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I'll try and find a link, Madison Wisconsin and several other cities have successfully rolled out a 'share a car' program. You reserve the car for when you need it. It wouldn't seem practical for us suburbanites, but it has been very successful in helping city dwellers who occasionally need a car for longer trips / errands. In fact, it has some impressive numbers on people who have sold their car / forestalled buying since joining the program.

edit: Here is the Madison, WI program: Welcome to Community Car

And a bunch of others if anyone wants to investigate a program near them: Where can you find Car Sharing in North America
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