Wind Energy & Open Data

I've thought a lot about renewable energy in various forms for some time now, especially since I moved to PEI where a good amount of our energy can come from wind. The official figure I've heard varies from 15% (source) to 18% (source). That is pretty good, but when you figure only 20% comes from nuclear (when Point Lepreau is up and running) that indicates a lot of our energy comes from oil and coal.

In 2008 Premier Robert Ghiz put forth a plan to increase our output from the 149 or so MegaWatts we currently produce to 500. That would allow us to increase our wind consumption to 30%, directly cutting from oil and coal. This has obviously not happened, as his plan called for the first 100MW to come online this year. The culprit was a combination of the recession, the failure of Canada to implement a cap and trade system on our CO2 useage, and low oil prices. The proposals by developers would have required that the energy be sold at a higher rate than what we currently pay, and that's already the highest in Canada (according to Manitoba Hydro (source), .169$/kWh).

One thing that will help out wind energy is that the price of oil is back up (~$108/barrel). The economy looks like it is slowly getting back on track as well, though how much of that is an illusion remains to be seen.

The government claims that the 500MW plan is still in effect, once they get some good proposals from developers. This is good news.

When researching information about wind energy on PEI, or anything to do with electricity, I found there was not a good source of information. I admit I don't look beyond page one of google's search results, but I do try to query the best I can to find this information. The fact that I had to go to Manitoba Hydro to find out what we pay for electricity is funny (of course I could have checked my bill, but I can't link to that). One person who also feels this pain but is doing something about it is Peter Rukavina. He is looking to open up government data, particularly how much energy is being generated by our wind farms. It turns out there just isn't any publicly available data on that. In fact, the North Cape Wind Farm isn't even permanently connected to the internet, it's on dial up! (So much for the island getting high speed internet)

Peter was able to use some data from the New Brunswick System Operator website and scrape the data into an tracking system here. That page shows how much energy and where that energy is coming from for the NB system. Of particular note is the PEI component. I've actually used the code from that page to embed a little graph on the right hand side of my blog here so you can see at any point what our energy flow with NB has been doing. If the number is positive, it means we are importing energy from NB. If it goes negative it means that the wind must be blowing and our demand is actually low enough that we're exporting wind energy to NB. That occurred for the first time since the feed went live last night.

Thank you Peter for all the work, meeting with politicians, writing the code, and the interest in our wind energy. I look forward to further developments and I'd be interested in helping out in any way I could.


Immaculate Machine No More

Sad but not totally unexpected news yesterday, Immaculate Machine, one of my favourite bands, is no more.

I first saw them in 2007 in Charlottetown (also the first time I saw Smothered in Hugs!), and then a couple times after that, every time they came back to the island. I even blogged about a couple of their shows here. Another interesting fact, they were the first band I ever photographed (as evidence by the not so great shots showcased here).

They had a lot of talent and put on a great live show, and I will miss them! They are all involved in new projects though, so I assume I'll see them again someday.


CBC Radio 3 Searchlight Nomination

As the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait would say, Holy Haleakala! Someone nominated sucktastic for the CBC Radio 3 Searchlight for Canada's Best Music Website. Though I'm extremely flattered, I don't really see my blog as a music website. Only because Canadian Indie Music is such a large part of my life does it get mentioned here so often. But I also talk about other things, food, travel, atheism, photography, etc. So I don't really think I qualify.

However, the blog where we keep The Moe and Martin Show, Canada Is a Music Mecca is also nominated! Besides our show, there is lots of great stuff going on on that blog. We have a number of contributors posting interviews, album reviews, daily music news, occational tracks of the day, and more every day.

So please, if you have a Radio 3 account, or want to sign up for one (it's free and easy), consider voting for Canada is a Music Mecca!


Music PEI Week Playlist

I took a lot of video for the Friday night Music PEI Showcases. 3 Venues, 9 bands, and 22 videos have been compiled for your viewing pleasure!

Click YouTube to go to the playlist page and watch in HD.


Metering the Internet

Hacking Old Technology
Some of the biggest news in Canada now is related to the CRTC allowing usage based billing [UBB] by Bell Canada and others. Many Canadians are voicing their dissent of this move, and are particularly critical of the CRTC for not looking out for the best interests the people it is supposed to protect.

I remember when High Speed Internet was first happening in Canada, sometime around 1998-99. I was on board right away when I moved to Hamilton for university. I believe I was paying $50 a month for unlimited cable internet. Sometime in 1999/2000 they switched the plan myself and many of my Software Engineering friends were on to UBB, without actually telling us. A friend of mine was the first to find out, when after a few days, they cut off his internet. Many of us followed in the days to come as we went over our quotas. We spoke out strongly against this practice, as many others did as well. Within a month or two the UBB policy was reversed in full.

It was slightly different in that older case compared to now, for one thing, they cut us off, not charged us more. Obviously their policy was very wrong, but I think charging us more for going over on our bandwidth is also wrong.

If UBB goes through people will all of a sudden have to be very concious of what they're doing online. Want to watch a movie on your paid for Netflix subscription? Well you might have to pay again on top of your subscription. Want to stream a TV show from CTV or The Comedy Network? Visit sites with lots of ads? Guess what, now you'll also have to pay for those ads to be loaded. Sure, you can ad block, but then the people who run the sites will lose out on income. This will hurt many part time bloggers and people who depend on ad income to operate.

Myself personally, I upload and watch a lot of video on YouTube, upload pictures to flickr, and I have also been spending a lot of time watching Al Jazeera's coverage of the revolution in Egypt. In a 15 minute time frame last night I tracked my bandwidth usage. I downloaded 150MB, and uploaded about 100MB. project that forward and my total bandwidth is about 1GB/hour. In total last month I uploaded about 10GB of video, and that was a light month. Maybe I'm an exceptional case, but I know if my internet were metered I would be over every month.

Overall UBB will hurt Canadians in their pocketbook, as well as stifle new development out of Canada.

For more information, and a petition to sign check out Open Media.


The Moe and Martin Show

Since last spring my friend Moe and I have had a radio show on Radio Atlantic, and available as a podcast on Canada is a Music Mecca. Recently Radio Atlantic has been having issues ensuring our broadcast goes out either on time, or at all. However the podcast has always been a more convenient way to listen to the show.

The show focuses exclusively on Canadian East Coast music, with a definite bias on the Charlottetown scene. We play pretty much anything, but tend to avoid the straight up traditional stuff, as well as jazz/blues/classical. But Rock, Pop, Country, Hip Hop, Electronic dancey stuff, etc, are all covered. Along with great tunes, you also get a lot of Moe and I talking about the music, artists, shows and the scene in general in a pretty informal (and often wine fueled) manner. Check here for all of our shows. Something I should do in the future is get a best of show list. We've had some really good ones!

Our most recent show was a recap of the Music PEI 2011 awards show, and I think it's a fun one. There is lots of great music from the winners of most of the awards.

For your part, your mission, when you choose to accept it, is to send us requests, music, links, fake news reports, real news, and any other feedback you like. Email us at themoeandmartinshow@gmail.com.


Music PEI Week 2011

Music PEI Week 2011 has ended.  As always it was filled with great music and good times.  I took my video camera around Friday night to three different venues and 9 different bands.  That'll make a lot of editing in my future, an endeavour that has already begun.  So far I have finished with two bands, Racoon Bandit and The North Lakes, both at Solid Rock Cafe.  Racoon Bandit won Best Video for their video HAT and The North Lakes won best Alternative Album.

Big winners were one of my favourite bands, Haunted Hearts.  They get played a lot on The Moe and Martin Show and I've probably seen them live more than any other band (including seeing them Friday night, stay tuned for video, they really rocked!).  They get classified as Country, but I don't think the standard classifications are working very well for PEI bands anymore.  When I think country I think twangy whiny crap music, and that they are not.  Perhaps it's just that the classification has changed while I wasn't paying attention.  Anyway, Haunted Hearts won Group of the Year, Album of the Year, Country Album of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year.

Molly Rankin, another regular on the radio show, won 3 awards herself, Female Vocalist, New Artist, and Pop Recording.  Each of her speeches at the awards was funnier than the previous.  In fact the whole awards show was hilarious.  Fraser and Lenny did another fantastic job as hosts.

Keep an eye on my YouTube channel for all the videos, but until then, here's a couple from Racoon Bandit and The North Lakes:


Flying Home

Sunset on the Wing
Just a quick update on things.

I'm taking the advanced pottery class at the PEI Pottery Studio this semester, and really enjoying having some direction again. So far I've thrown 10 mugs and 9 bowls (of varying quality. This is a chance to experiment after all). I'll try to get some pictures of the process soon.

Besides that I'm trying to figure out a photography project I can get into. I am too lazy for a full 365, but a friend recently suggested something to do with food photography. Combining sharing what I eat with pictures could be fun. And potentially embarrassing for those days I have nothing but a bowl of cereal for dinner.

I also have a new iPod, the one that takes pictures. So I've found I've been taking a lot of crummy mobile photos and sharing them on facebook and twitter. For instance here is my veggie madras from Churchill Arms in Charlottetown from last night:

Follow me on Twitter to see more.