One More Set of Factoids

More from the (US) Transportation Energy Data Book.

Consumers continue to demand gas guzzling automobiles. The IRS collected over $79 million in 2002 from those buying autos with fuel economy less than 22.5 miles per gallon. This tax does not apply to light trucks such as pickups, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and vans.

These taxes are from $1,000 – $7,000 each. Many of us still don’t understand why the taxes don’t apply to light trucks. Consumers are paying much more in direct than taxes than are the manufacturers:

Manufacturers of autos and light trucks whose vehicles do not meet the CAFE standards are fined. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that nearly $20 million has been collected from the manufacturers for model year (MY) 2002 and $34 million for MY 2001.

We all know that people with children drive more, 28,300 miles/year in 2001 vs. 16,700 miles/year for those without — some of that has to be age, as younger and older drivers spend less time behind the wheel. A big surprise to me is the urban/rural divide: 19,300 miles/year for urban households, up 300 miles from 11 years earlier; 28,400 miles/year for households, up 6,200 miles from 11 years earlier. That’s a lot of hours in the sitting position, not good for the health.

Correction Thanks to SD for catching my error in posting a 71% loss in electricity once it’s been manufactured. Most of that 71% is the huge loss in energy when molecules are burned (or atoms fissioned) to make heat, because only a percentage of heat energy is available for useful work.

His source (pdf) says, “Energy losses in the U.S. T&D [transmission and distribution] system were 7.2% in 1995, accounting for 2.5 quads of primary energy and 36.5 MtC. Losses are divided such that about 60% are from lines and 40% are from transformers (most of which are for distribution).”

In California, where we use less electricity than the size of our population would indicate, losses are closer to half, though I haven’t verified that by looking into the details. Electricity is shipped enormous distances: our coal power comes from out of state as we’re not allowed to pollute locally, and we regularly ship power from Washington State and back up to same. The size of our boonies (north or east of Sacramento) is larger than many states.

The independent operators lose about 4% by keeping production levels above use levels — if a large number of people turn on their electric dryers simultaneously, the surge could do terrible things. The power companies, no longer in charge due to deregulation, were more skilled, and kept that loss about 2%. Additionally, there is waste due to electricity manufacture at night. Nuclear power is stored by transporting water up, to be used the next day as hydroelectric power, with a loss of 10%? Wind power — 3 to 5 AM is the windy season — is lost.

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