Archive for July, 2010

Exotic Radish Slice

July 19th, 2010

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Streetlight through Rain-soaked Glass

July 17th, 2010

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Veins of a Leaf

July 16th, 2010

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Busy Fishy Waters

July 15th, 2010

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Open Door Issue Heats Up

July 14th, 2010

There are some exciting new developments in my campaign to get retail stores to close their doors when the air conditioning is on (and the DC power grid is strained).  Most importantly, I’ve begun a dialogue with the very responsive DC council member Mary Cheh and started discussing the next steps.  Jeremy Faust, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, was helpful enough to dig up some dead legislation that was introduced by Jim Graham in 2007 called the ‘Closed Doors and Windows Energy Conservation Act’ [pdf link].  It’s not perfect, but hopefully it can be re-examined and improved upon.

In other news, the NBC Washington site published a big article (also on MSNBC) about air condition use in DC that fortunately highlighted my letter but unfortunately did a very poor job of reporting (and somehow got a way with a lot of editorializing).  I responded in the comments where things got really interesting, including a lovely example of Godwin’s Law.  Here is an excerpt from the article (where I am called ‘local man’) and then some choice comment highlights:

D.C. resident Nicko Margolies is rightly annoyed by the practice of many stores in the city to set their air conditioning on full blast while leaving their front doors wide open.

In a letter to the Washington Post, Margolies calls it “an extraordinarily wasteful act that strains the city’s electrical grid” that is “terrible for the environment.”

True. But Margolies isn’t just griping — he is also calling for legislation. He wants the District to “punish stores” that “blow cold air directly into the street.” He tells us that he will be contacting every member of the D.C. Council, and “hopefully starting a movement” toward legislation similar to that adopted by New York City two hot summers ago. (So far, nine New York stores have been slapped with $200 fines.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local-beat/Ban-AC-in-DC-98320999.html

I won’t copy the whole article, but it gets a little off base.  Here are some of the comments of support:

Hey Nicko, I feel for you. This site’s reporting ethics seem synonymous with that of communist propaganda sometimes. You had a valid point and they left it out. People would never intentionally leave their own door open with the AC on, so why should you be heckled by a utility company when businesses do it all day long? Georgetown is the worst example around here. The rest of you critics need to read deeper into these things. NBC Washington is failing to report valid points made, and that’s not something any respectable reporter would do.

[via NBC Washington comment #7]

I would love to get Mr. Margolies contact info so that I can join his efforts !

[via NBC Washington comment #9]

Mr. Margolies —
I’m glad you commented on this story and further explained your point of view. The reporter made you sound like some whacked out hippy.

[via NBC Washington comment #10]

Nicko Margolies is right and Orvetti misses the point entirely. It’s not about people’s “right” to waste (which is nonetheless deplorable), it’s about the grid and the environment.

[via MSNBC comment #4]

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Responses to Letter

July 13th, 2010

After emailing a few outlets and all the members of DC Council I’ve received a number of interesting pieces of feedback.  I will provide updates to this project as they develop.  Also, thanks for all the feedback!

From Greater Greater Washingtion:

You can’t air condition the outdoors: In the high heat, many stores leave their doors open, providing brief flashes of cool for passerby but wasting huge amounts of energy. Nicko Margolies advocates for banning the practice, as NYC did recently. (DCist, Post)

From DCist (most commented and viewed post of the day):

Getting to the point: I’ve gotten at least three separate emails this morning asking me to check out a letter to the editor that the Washington Post reprinted this morning about this very issue. One Nicko Margolies writes:

With the sweltering summer heat upon the city, I find myself stunned by the policies of many area retail stores to keep the air conditioning on full blast and the front doors wide-open. It is an extraordinarily wasteful act that strains the city’s electrical grid and is terrible for the environment. Pepco recently sent a message through the D.C. government’s alert system asking residents to refrain from using power-heavy appliances during peak hours, but there is no rebuke for businesses that blow cold air directly into the street. The D.C. Council should pass legislation to punish stores because this profligate practice must go — a smart move that New York City made two years ago.

While complaining incessantly about the most menial of daily annoyances is every Washingtonian’s god-given right, this gripe seems to have a tiny bit more oomph behind it. Gothamist (really, not crack addicts, I swear) has the details on the New York law that Margolies references, which fines New York businesses $200 for “per open door/window in air conditioned spaces (as well as heated spaces in the winter)” if they’re caught in the act. And while keeping an open door might be a very good thing for small and local businesses to attract customers and maintain a sense of community, it does come off as kind of unnecessary in light of Pepco’s pleas for energy conservation. (After all, if your neighbors have melted, they probably won’t be doing much shopping.)

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Letter to the Editor: Don’t let the cold air out

July 12th, 2010

This morning the Washington Post published my letter to the editor about commercial establishments keeping their doors open and the air conditioning on. Next steps are to email every member of the DC Council, all local blogs and hope to start some legislation in DC modeled after the law in New York City.

With the sweltering summer heat upon the city, I find myself stunned by the policies of many area retail stores to keep the air conditioning on full blast and the front doors wide-open. It is an extraordinarily wasteful act that strains the city’s electrical grid and is terrible for the environment.

Pepco recently sent a message through the D.C. government’s alert system asking residents to refrain from using power-heavy appliances during peak hours, but there is no rebuke for businesses that blow cold air directly into the street. The D.C. Council should pass legislation to punish stores because this profligate practice must go — a smart move that New York City made two years ago.

Nicko Margolies, Washington

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/11/AR2010071103118.html

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