April 28, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D. C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
Congratulations on your recent election. Thank you for your leadership and resolve to lead America.
Your recent weekly radio address to our nation encouraged me to write directly to you.
Several years ago I was with Congressman Joe Barton, 6th district Texas, and he acquainted me with Daniel Yergin’s work, The Prize; The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power. Mr. Barton’s message to me was that the attack on Pearl Harbor was in essence an “energy war.” Mr. Barton suggested that we could be destined for many more “energy wars” if we do not solve the energy problem. Arguably, energy is the greatest single problem facing America and mankind today. Fossil fuels are finite and once depleted can not be revived.
However, Americans tend to be fully absorbed with short horizon issues. Today, we must solve the economic situation by stimulating economic growth, spending, and creation of jobs.
You have demonstrated an understanding of both these fundamental issues by the emphasis you have placed on the modernization of the electrical transmission and distribution system into the “Smart Grid” using “Smart Meters,” and the Department of Energy’s commitment to alternative energy sources.
As a high-tech entrepreneurial businessman in California, I addressed this issue in April 2001 when California had blackouts, brownouts. At the time I and my company risked our family’s life savings and banded together with many small private investors who backed what we were doing. We developed an extremely smart electrical utility metering system which remotely communicated to gas and water meters and an in-home customer information display. The in-home display transformed utility “ratepayers” into intelligent customers by providing them with up to the second rate and usage information in dollars and cents.
We demonstrated the prototypes to California State Senator Tom Torlakson who became convinced that consumers should have the real time information as it would stimulate conservation and peak demand reduction. The senator, in collaboration with Dr. Severen Bornstein, (now Director, University of California Energy Institute) wrote CA Senate bill 1976 which launched a two year study in California proving people react to price signals and information. This in turn led to the mandate of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI.)
Our small company was there every step of the way. We nudged the CA Public Utility Commission into mandating AMI, and we nudged Southern California Edison (SCE,) the largest electrical utility in the U. S. into embracing and championing the cause. You may review our Web site at http://www.usclcorp.com and go to the USCL Leads the Way section. From our first encounter with Senator Torlakson, to our contribution in the reversal of SCE’s original negative position on AMI, we were there advocating the way it should be for the consumer’s benefit. All of our political accomplishments are presented in this section and each bullet line can be clicked on to download the authoritative body of work regarding that issue.
Over an 8 year period we caused the concept of a “Smart Meter” to become ubiquitous. However, one must be careful to properly define the term “Smart Meter.” In that connection I refer you to Exhibit “A” hereto which is a simple paper entitled “What Makes a Meter Smart.” Today, the marketing folks at all the major meter companies have learned to call all new digital meters “Smart Meters.” One utility company even filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and obtained a Federal trademark on the words “Smart Meter.” They simply silk screen those words on meters that may not be indicative of a “Smart Meter.”
The point here is that our company took the risk. When the energy crisis hit in 2001, we had demonstrable prototypes in front of law makers within 4 months. We did this on our nickel based on our belief that it was the right thing to do because in the long term we would build an enduring business offering high paying technical jobs building a product intended to help people manage their money and help the country conserve precious fossil fuels.
Along the way, we took all the prudent measures to insure our shareholders a return on their investment through future revenues and profits. In May 2008 the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded us with a very significant patent in this field, number 7,379,791. We have also filed patent applications in China, Israel, and the European Union, to insure that monies come back to the United States based on our IP and work.
This approach to business was the “American Way” when I was growing up. Now, unfortunately many have become greedy and try to make money by financial trades and leverage. Unfortunately, your efforts and that of Mr. Timothy Geitner have had to be brought to bear on correcting this false economy and cleaning up the devastating results. I trust that your good offices will once again place strong value and emphasis on education, scientific, and technical achievement, and the willingness to take prudent risks by small business people. This concept needs to be drilled into the American public’s mind set.
Now, I wish to take a brief moment and turn to the other overarching theme embedded in the second paragraph of this letter. Energy is a big issue. The Smart Grid initiatives will contribute by increasing efficiencies of power delivery and a reduction of demand. It will also stimulate the economy by creating jobs and causing new, lean and mean, technology companies to provide new and innovative components for the smart grid.
Fossil fuels are finite. Once gone, no matter how hard we try, they can not be brought back. Thus, the specter of energy wars becomes reality. By increasing efficiency of power delivery and reducing demand (of all energy…electricity, gas, water, and transportation) we buy a few more years to solve the problem.
In the seventies, as a college student majoring in physics, I was taught this problem would be solved by the commercialization of controlled fusion energy within thirty years. The problem is that was thirty five years ago.
It should be noted that President Carter signed the Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act (MFEEA) in 1980. The goal was to have fusion reactors on line by 2005. Unfortunately this has not happened. The reason it did not happen was the Act was never properly funded. The science is clearly there. Much engineering and applied materials development needs to be done but it can and will work. Fusion allows one gram of two isotopes of Hydrogen to liberate the equivalent energy of over 2,500 gallons of gasoline. Once fusion is fully harnessed and large reactors are on line, commercial and industrial enterprises will begin to scale down the size and output of fusion reactors making fusion viable for distributed generation. Fusion produces no radioactivity per se, and little radioactive waste. Fusion can not go critical like fission in a “melt down mode.” Fusion promises to:
- Solves energy for eternity with virtually unlimited, inexpensive energy
- Takes global warming off the discussion table because fossil fuels are no longer used
- Solves world wide potable, distributed, water requirements of the mid century
- Fusion-fission hybrid reactors may be used to safely destroy 50 years of nuclear fission radioactive waste
For less money than American taxpayers had to obligate to repair the failed banks and insurance companies, this may be developed with proper “to the moon and back” NASA-like, military disciplined, management. This project can “rebuild America” and reestablish America’s sense of purposefulness and preeminence in the world. Please see: http://fuelRfuture.com which we set up as a non-scientists learning and knowledge resource. The President Carter MFEEA may be downloaded at the Who Killed Fusion section on this site.
It has been suggested that fusion energy may not be needed and that more conventional alternative energy sources such as bio-fuels, solar, wind, geo-thermal, tidal, conventional nuclear fission, and the like will be sufficient. This may or may not be an accurate assessment. Certainly these alternatives must be deployed now as immediate relief, but over the course of the next few years they may not be capable of meeting the world’s demand to any large degree.
The first step is to make a determination of the forecasted energy sources including fossil fuels and all “alternatives” like solar, bio-fuel, wind, geo-thermal, conventional nuclear fission, tidal, etc., between now and 2050, on a year by year basis. This will define the known supply. This needs to be correlated with the yearly projected demand as the world’s population increases to 9.5 billion by 2050. This analysis will frame the problem in a clear and concise way and guide your team in just how quickly fusion must be put on line. In a recent meeting with former CIA Director James Woolsey, he informed me that this has not been done and that it was not necessary. That surprised me. I suggest this because many leading scientists say currently known “alternative energy” solutions can supply less than 10% of world energy requirements in the year 2050.
I trust you will review this matter with Dr. Chu and your other esteemed science and energy advisers in the near future. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and exhibit.
Tom D. Tamarkin
CC: The Honorable, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, & Dr. Chu