Author Archives: Lawrence Furman

Larry Furman – Renewable Energy Advocate – For General Assembly


Investment for the 21st Century – To Rebuild the Economy – To Withstand the Storms

Seaside Heights after Sandy, Photo by Master Sgt. Mark C.Olsen, US Air Force

Seaside Heights after Sandy, Photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, US Air Force

The best way to rebuild our our cities, towns, and farms, to assure resilience in the face of storms like Sandy, to strengthen our national security infrastructure, and to build a strong economic foundation for future generations is to embrace efficiency, innovation, and renewable energy.

And with Energy the least expensive unit of energy, is the unit of energy you don’t need to buy, the “Nega-Watt.”  The next least expensive unit of energy is the one that doesn’t need fuel, and doesn’t create waste, the “Nega-Fuel-Watt.”

Berkshire Hathaway’s Mid-American Energy is investing in 500 mega-watt solar farms in the southwest. These are the size of small nuclear power plants. This isn’t because Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are asking people at Greenpeace “In what should we invest?” This is because at $3.2 Billion to $4.0 Billion per gigawatt new solar is a fraction of the cost of the $8.0 to $12.0 Billion per gigawatt needed to invest in new nuclear.  And what’s good for Berkshire Hathaway is good for New Jersey.  As of Dec. 31, 2012, we had 900 MW of solar. We should be building another 3,000 MW of solar and 5,000 MW of offshore wind. This will create jobs, give us a stronger, more resilient electric grid, and provide energy with much less pollution.

I want to do three things in Trenton:

  1. Push the state to be more energy efficient, because that will save the taxpayers money,
  2. Facilitate mechanisms by which local businesses and citizens can save money on energy,
  3. Plan for 8,000 MW of wind and solar by 2040.

I need your help to get there.



On Climate & Capitalism

Jersey Shore Damage from Hurricane Sandy. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

Seaside Heights, NJ Boardwalk  following Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, US Air Force

As we wait for the next IPCC report, we know Atmospheric carbon dioxide is now around 400 parts per million, up about 40% from about 265 ppm at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.  Scientists say 350 PPM is the threshold of climate change. We are 15% above the threshold.

If you get pulled over for driving under the influence, and you blow 15% over the threshold, you’re in serious trouble. You may believe you are not too drunk to drive safely, but the scientific evidence contradicts your belief. So it is with climate change.  With atmospheric carbon dioxide at 400 PPM, we are in serious trouble. Some people deny the science, just as people under the influence may deny the evidence.

We now know that all that carbon dioxide in the air and oceans is acidifying the oceans, has increased ocean volume 8 inches in the 20th Century and is warming the atmosphere and the oceans. Warming something, when you talk to a physicist, means it has more energy. If the ocean and the atmosphere have more energy we can expect bigger more powerful storms.  We saw Sandy in 2012, Irene in 2011 and Katrina in 2005.  Were they caused or exacerbated by all this carbon dioxide? I don’t know. I’m not a climate scientist. I’ve a BS in Biology from 1981 and an MBA in Sustainability from 2011.  But 95% of the climate scientists research says, “Probably.”

Where do we go from here? The answer, my friend, as Dylan wrote 50 years ago, “is blowing in the wind.”


In December, 2012, when the power came back on after Sandy, I read that Mid-American Energy was buying big utility scale solar energy systems.  Mid-American is owned by Berkshire Hathaway – the company managed by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Buffett and Munger are not famous environmentalists.  I don’t know if, like me, they support Greenpeace or even it’s conservative uncle, the Sierra Club. But they are buying 500 Megawatt solar plants – solar farms the size of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant.  They cost $1.6 Billion to $2 Billion for a 500 MW plant. New nuclear would cost about $7 or $8 Billion for a 500 MW plant, and that doesn’t count the costs borne by the taxpayers, of securing the plant or managing the waste.

So in December, 2012, I took $16 million of imaginary money and put it in $1 million chunks, into 16 real energy companies into two portfolios: A Sustainable Energy portfolio and a Fossil Fuel portfolio.  First Solar, Sunpower, Cree, and 5 other sustainable energy companies and Exxon, BP, Haliburton, Transocean, and 4 other fossil fuel or fossil fuel service companies.

The results, as of the close of trading on the stock market August 21, 2013, are that the fossil portfolio is up 3.78%. The Dow Industrials and the S&P 500, reference indices, are up about 14.66% and 16.36%, respectively: The Fossil Portfolio dramatically underperformed the indices. The sustainable energy portfolio, on the other hand was up 96.55%. Almost double. This, my friends, is Climate Capitalism*. I’ve published my results here, on  Popular Logistics, an online reference on energy, economics, and system thinking.

  • The Sustainable Energy portfolio, is up 96.55%
  • The Reference Fossil Fuel portfolio is up 3.78%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 14.66%
  • The S&P 500 is up 16.36%.

We should put solar energy systems on every public school. Because over the long term solar is now cheaper than new coal or new nuclear, and we, as taxpayers, pay the operating costs and electric bills of public schools.  If we put solar energy systems on every public school, and wire those systems so they disconnect from the grid during power failures, then during the next “100 Year Storm” – and it’s been 9 months since the last one so there’s one due any day now – then we will have emergency shelters with power, clean power, power that doesn’t rely on gasoline or diesel; power that doesn’t push more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, or radioisotopes into the biosphere; power that is largely impervious to hurricanes, tsunamis, accidents and acts of terror.

* Climate Capitalism, by L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, book on Amazon, discussion, Natural Capital Solutions.

I Oppose The Proposed “Port Ambrose” LNG Port

US Congressman & Senate Candidate Frank Pallone, Jr. , D. NJ, on the beach, speaking on energy policy

US Congressman & Senate Candidate Frank Pallone, Jr. , D. NJ, on the beach, speaking on energy policy.

Sea Bright, New Jersey, July 11, 2013. I joined Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action, (fact sheetU.S, Rep Frank Pallone, campaign, and many citizens, including two children, one about 6, the other about 9. We spoke with eloquence, passion, and wisdom of the need to protect the shore, the biosphere, the bio-human-sphere.

“We need to build a clean and sustainable energy infrastructure,” I concluded, “one based on solar, wind, wave, geothermal and sustainable biofuels; an infrastructure for the future.  These distributed systems can be designed to withstand natural disasters, human error and terrorist attack. Our future is at stake, and our children’s future.”

I spoke for about 3 minutes, cutting my prepared remarks about in half.

This is not a partisan issue. Rep Pallone and I are Democrats. Governor Christie is a Republican. The Governor wisely vetoed an identical project in 2011 has promised to veto new deepwater LNG transfer ports.  Senator Buono and environmental / citizens groups should hold the governor to his promises.This is a disaster waiting to happen.

We need to look to the rooftops for solar, the oceans for wind and wave power, to geothermal differentials for heat and electricity, to build an infrastructure for the 21st Century.


Independence Day, 2013

Today, July 4, 2013, I am thinking about The Four Freedoms, Plus Two, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Future.

The Original Four Freedoms, Plus Two:

  • Freedom of Speech and Assembly
  • Freedom to Pray – and to Not
  • Freedom from Fear
  • Freedom from Want
  • Freedom to Love.

The Declaration of Independence, here, The Bill of Rights, here, & the Future – an Economy in which we Thrive –

  • Opportunities to work at a career we enjoy, and retire while we are young enough to enjoy life.
  • An energy infrastructure that provides power without pollution and can withstand hurricanes – an Infrastructure for the 21st Century.
  • Schools, colleges and universities where we can get a good education – so we can find a good job or start a business when we graduate, so we can pay off our loans and build a family, regardless of who we love.

Policy is too important for lobbyists and politicians – and Bob Clifton, one of the incumbents in NJ LD 12 Assembly, is BOTH: A LOBBYIST and A POLITICIAN!   Continue reading

Greetings from Asbury Park

Asbury Park Convention Center, Postcard weather

Asbury Park Convention Center, Postcard weather

Asbury Park, NJ, April 29, 2013, 6:30 AM.Youtube.

Imagine if we had solar energy systems on our schools and our homes, and if those systems were designed to feed power into buildings when the grid shut down … we would have emergency shelters with power.  And if they were married to wind turbines located 4 or 5 miles offshore – we’d have a much more resilient grid. 

That’s what we have to do.

That’s why I’m running for Assembly.

Thank you very much.

Continue reading

Earth Day, 2013. We Need to Clean Up the Economy

The Candidate at Monmouth Battleground State Park

At Monmouth Battleground State Park. Image by Dee Cantalice, Millstone. 

April 22, 2013, Monmouth Battleground State Park, 6:00 AM. On YouTube.

Earth Day, 2013.

On Earth Day, 1970, I was working to clean up a beach.

Today, Earth Day, 2013, I am working to clean up the economy.

[Both require teamwork.]

Continue reading

Guns, Freedom & The Second Amendment

I support – and will work for – universal background checks, with no exceptions, strict licensing and training requirements for gun ownership, and a well-regulated militia, as called for in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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A Thriving Economy for the 21st Century

NJ Unemployment Rates, January, 2013, by county. NJ Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

NJ Unemployment Rates, January, 2013, by county. NJ Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

Unemployment is at 9.8% in New Jersey. At the county level, in January, 2013, the unemployment rates were in Middlesex County, 8.5%, in Monmouth, 9.4% in Burlington, 9.5%, and in Ocean, 11.7% (PDF, 1).

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the unemployment rate is 6.7% (2) and Silicon Valley, the unemployment rate is 7.6% (3), people transform basic research into commercial products! Simply put, they turn ideas into wealth. We’ve done it before – think Bell Labs and Thomas Edison. We can do it again.

The good news is that interest rates are low enough that we can roll up our sleeves, rebuild our infrastructure and build a strong foundation for a thriving economy. This will help all of us: the farmers, teachers, engineers, their families, and everybody else. Continue reading

Energy & Emergency Preparedness

We experienced Two Hurricanes, Sandy and Irene, and Three Nor’Easters within two years, and Severe Power Failures. We must clean up from Sandy and prepare for future storms.

Imagine solar energy systems built from Off-The-Shelf components on each public school. These pay for themselves over time and ultimately lower taxes. If designed to come on when the sun rises during a power failure we would have emergency shelters with light and power. Coupled with off-shore wind turbines and underground cables, also off-the-shelf and available now, we would have a resilient grid that would be able to withstand hurricanes and nor’easters.