Articles by Dick Hill


The coal facts

By Dick Hill on Jan. 29, 2010, at 9:59 p.m.
Half of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal. That coal costs about $1.50 per million Btu. The oil we burn to heat our homes costs about $25 per million Btu. The elimination of coal from our national energy diet will be difficult.

Maine energy use

By Dick Hill on Jan. 22, 2010, at 6:15 p.m.
The population of Maine is about 0.4 percent of the U.S. population. We also use 0.4 percent of all U.S. energy, 0.6 percent of the petroleum, 0.5 percent of the gasoline, 1.0 percent of the diesel oil, 0.4 percent of liquefied petroleum gases, 0.2 percent of the natural gas, and …

Energy projects

By Dick Hill on Oct. 03, 2009, at 2:06 a.m.
Worldwide investment in 2008 for oil and natural gas development projects totaled $492 billion, a 21 percent increase over 2007. Yet the worldwide reserves of oil and natural gas fell.

Calories and energy

By Dick Hill on Sept. 26, 2009, at 1:14 a.m.
Every food package has a list of contents and percentages of total fat, sodium, and so on. A footnote says: “Percent daily values based on a 2,000-calorie diet.” (They mean 2,000 kcalories, but …

The Chinese view

By Dick Hill on Sept. 18, 2009, at 10:58 p.m.
As part of the worldwide dialogue on carbon-in-the-atmosphere and global warming the Chinese have said: “Countries that buy goods from China should be held responsible for the carbon dioxide …

Electric facts

By Dick Hill on Sept. 12, 2009, at 1:22 p.m.
The annual electricity consumption in the U.S. is about 4,000 billion kilowatt-hours. This implies, on average, that each of us uses a bit over 1 kilowatt 24-7. Only one-third of this energy is used …

U.S. ‘smart grids’ would save energy, money

By Dick Hill on Aug. 19, 2009, at 8:19 p.m.
The Island of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, has a population of nearly half a million people on an area of 186 square miles.

Mideast changes

By Dick Hill on July 31, 2009, at 7:42 p.m.
Three things are happening in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East: rapid population growth, an escalation in standard of living and a water shortage. Dominated by the need for desalination electricity, these events are driving a massive power plant construction program. The associated increase in the price of oil …

Nuclear waste

By Dick Hill on July 18, 2009, at 2:36 a.m.
Steven Chu, the U.S. energy secretary, has deep pockets: $26 billion as his department budget, and another $39 billion of stimulus money. Here is what is “in”: electric cars, a smart electric …

Wind vs. nuclear

By Dick Hill on July 03, 2009, at 10:41 p.m.
The Cape Wind proposal off Cape Cod has been in the works for nearly a decade. Here is the plan: 130 wind turbines to be installed; nominal generation capacity — 468 megawatts total; rotating blades of each unit will sweep the area of two football fields; turbines spaced out over …

Home energy use

By Dick Hill on June 27, 2009, at 1:01 a.m.
The annual residential energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration, is about 100,000 Btu for each square foot of living space. Here is how you can check your house: • …

Carbon statistics

By Dick Hill on June 06, 2009, at 1:56 a.m.
Combustion of fossil fuel now contributes 6 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide each year. Six thousand billion tons of carbon are still in the earth in the form of coal, oil and natural gas. The tolerance of the atmosphere for the current …

Grid work needed

By Dick Hill on May 15, 2009, at 11:52 p.m.
The U.S. electric network is operated by 3,000 utility companies (Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., Central Maine Power Co., etc.) using 146,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. These transmission lines are, in turn, owned by another 500 transmission line companies. Good sources of wind and solar energy are not close to these …

Our energy future

By Dick Hill on May 09, 2009, at 1:05 p.m.
The most important energy news in a decade is in a book, and it’s online at The author, David J.C. McKay, is a professor of physics from Cambridge University. He tells it …


By Dick Hill on April 24, 2009, at 8:01 p.m.
Packaged foods contain the note “Based on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet.” (They mean kilocalorie, but that is another story.) This “calorie-per-day energy” can be stated as the steady-state …

Electric facts

By Dick Hill on March 27, 2009, at 7:12 p.m.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, projects that by the year 2030 the annual use of electricity in the U.S. will be 5,000 billion …

Summer heat

By Dick Hill on March 13, 2009, at 11:39 p.m.
The maximum electric energy use in New England occurs at 3 in the afternoon on a humid summer day. That load is about 28,000 megawatts. The population of New England is about 15 million. On the average, each person in New England, on that day, is using electricity at the …

Nuclear power

By Dick Hill on March 06, 2009, at 8 p.m.
In the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, many European countries banned the construction of nuclear-powered electricity plants. Now, driven by concern for global warming and with Russia an …

U.S. energy use

By Dick Hill on Feb. 07, 2009, at 3:19 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Energy, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, reports U.S. energy use in four categories: residential, 20 percent; commercial, 18 percent; industrial, 33 percent; and transportation 28 percent. The residential sector in New England consumes just 1 percent of total U.S. energy use. Here …

Home energy use

By Dick Hill on Jan. 30, 2009, at 6:43 p.m.
The residential sector (again, using data from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy) consumes about 20 percent of total U.S. energy. About 5 …