Category — State Energy Issues
“[The] almost certain outcome is that within a few days after January 1, 2015, the cap-and-trade program will cause the price of gasoline in California to increase by 9-10 cents, less than the drop in gas prices over the last few weeks…. Before I move to confront some of the spin, let’s consider that price increase in context. A 10-cent increase will be about 2.5%. Here are some things you could do to fully offset that additional cost:
*Drive 70 mph instead of 72 mph on the freeway.
* Buy a car that gets 31 mpg instead of 30 mpg.
* Keep your tires properly inflated.
Instead of this simple reality, we are hearing misinformation coming from both sides.”
– Severin Borenstein, “Californians Can Handle the Truth About Gas Prices”, The Energy Collective, August 12, 2014.
Severin Borenstein, Director of the University of California Energy Institute, says that “Californians Can Handle the Truth About Gas Prices” resulting from the state’s Cap and Trade program. To Borenstein, that truth is that his purported 10-cent per gallon gas tax hike would be unnoticeable at the service station pump.
But, can Borenstein handle the truth about the Cap and Trade program’s empty policies in the first place? [Read more →]
August 14, 2014 4 Comments
“We as Ohioans and Americans have to be able to see through the scheme, demand proof of net environmental and energy benefits of wind, or force the industry out of the state to save our tax dollars and our electricity-bill dollars the industry has been drunk on since 2008.”
The Lima News may not be a household name, but it is at ground zero in the local and state wind wars. Here in Ohio, Governor Kasich and the Republican-led House and Senate put the clamps on intrusive wind power projects on private land. And the Wind Lobbyists are mad at their rare defeat.
The editorial below (in red), “Politicians Must Revise Wind Rules,” takes issue with that rare victory for taxpayers, ratepayers, and landowners in the Wind Wars. I respond in indented black. [Read more →]
July 22, 2014 1 Comment
“A government is the only known vessel that leaks from the top,” newspaper journalist James Reston once wrote.
There could be no more apropos example of this than Barack Obama’s new proposed rules to mothball “dirty” coal power plants; to reduce CO2 power plant emissions 30 percent from their 2005 level by 2030; and to set voluntary targets for the percentage of renewable energy in each state by 2029.
Obama’s new push is an attempt to address leakage, at least within the United States. The term is not meant to describe the leakage in a high-voltage electric transmission line that can cause fires, damage, or electrocution. Rather, it is meant to describe the migrating of jobs, industries, population, and votes to other states due to planned higher electricity rates mainly in California and other Blue states as a result of forcing a shift to inferior renewable energies.
California Wins, Neighbors Lose
June 24, 2014 4 Comments
“Gov. Kasich has walked away from his commitment to renewable energy. He and the Legislature are creating an unfriendly business environment in Ohio. Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.”
- Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association, AWEA Press Release, June 16, 2014.
Is that a threat, Mr. Kiernan? Because states neighboring Ohio should indeed bristle at your words. Perhaps some legislatures will even muster the bravery to follow suit and protect their citizens with wind turbine setback distances measured from property lines – the way most other safety related zoning measurements are.
Kiernan’s whine makes it sound that it is AWEA’s land that it is being made off-limits to wind development. Neither is the case.
Furthermore, the new Ohio standard is not the first of its kind, and certainly not the most restrictive. For instance, in Clifton, Maine wind turbine project developers by law must negotiate an easement with all landowners whose property line is within 4,000 ft. of a wind energy generator.
“If Gov. Kasich is serious about this being a freeze and study, and not about defeating renewable energy, and if he wants us to believe what he says, then he simply must veto the setback,” [AWEA’s Ohio lobbyist, Dayna Baird] Payne said. “It would really be the end of the line for the industry… [a death knell].”
Whine, whine, whine on the taxpayer’s dime…. [Read more →]
June 19, 2014 No Comments
Georgia Power and Its Regulators: Doubling Down on Unneeded Electricity (sun, wind, and overcapacity)
“[The Georgia] situation is part of a trend where regulators are becoming the senior partners in the monopoly-regulatory cartel.”
Georgia Power is getting a lot of press these days about its commitment to using solar and wind generation. The problem is the age-old triumph of political power over consumer-driven power. The Company does not need this marginal supply, and what is being committed to is more expensive and less reliable than what they already have or could otherwise purchase.
Back in 2007 Georgia Power had its peak year in sales; today’s average is down about 15%. However, the Company continued to increase capacity, and its capacity factor (average utilization) has fallen to 55% from 73% in 2007. With a big nuclear plant coming on, why in the world is Georgia Power out buying more power capacity from other sources?
One big reason for buying unneeded renewable power is the stick of political pressure from the Georgia Public Service Commission. Commissioner Bubba McDonald has two other Commissioners, H. Doug Everett and Tim Echols, willing to back his agenda of more renewables at whatever costs and whether needed or not.
Georgia Power is vulnerable because their nuclear project is over-budget and behind schedule with more bad news to come. Georgia Power needs these Commissioners’ votes to collect for the nuclear debacle.
This situation is part of a trend where regulators are becoming the senior partners in the monopoly-regulatory cartel. [Read more →]
June 3, 2014 1 Comment
“But the truth is that Ohio’s renewable energy mandates have largely benefited only one group: entrenched monopoly fossil utilities like AEP, Iberdrola, and corporate behemoths like GE.”
Senate Bill 310’s attempt to freeze Ohio’s renewable energy mandate has elicited the typical partisan howls from Ohio’s green energy profiteers. They have been quick to paint the supporters of SB310 as slavish supporters of the much maligned Koch Brothers, FirstEnergy or other “dark fossil corporate profiteers”.
Curiously, these environmental group’s normally exquisitely tuned “corporate conspiracy radar” appears to have developed a massive wind-turbine-sized blind spot.
- In 1998 it was Enron’s Ken Lay who implored George W. Bush to extend subsidies for wind energy. A quick scan of his letter reveals talking points that today could easily be mistaken for the Ohio Sierra Club: “Wind is the fastest growing new electrical generation technology in the world today and has rapidly decreased its production costs until it is close to being competitive with conventional generation technologies.”
- But as shown by Sierra’s willingness to take $26 million from gas driller Chesapeake Energy to fight coal, their policy positions can be very nimble indeed-for a price.
- After Enron’s epic fail their wind business was scooped up by General Electric. GE’s power generation unit saw great opportunity in the growing alarm over global warming.
May 30, 2014 2 Comments
“The relevant rules are highly technical, and this often means that investors, users, and developers – as well as less-specialized professionals – typically depend on the structuring advice of experts who often assume the ‘typical’ business deal and then provide general guidance …. [Tax-break recipients] may … fail to attend to important aspects, leaving money on the table or putting their ventures at the risk of IRS attacks.”
- EUCI, “In-Depth Tax Planning for Renewable Energy Projects,” June 9–10 Conference Description.
The energy industry conference group EUCI is hosting a two-day event next month in San Diego, “In-Depth Tax Planning for Renewable Energy Projects.” The complex topic with specially designed software and technical experts is advertised as follows:
Maximizing the benefits of tax incentives is vital in any renewable energy transaction, and whether a project “pencils out” generally turns on the efficient use of these incentives. How soon investors can get their desired return and exit the project, and how much a project developer receives and when, depend greatly on how the tax incentives are handled.
Six “learning outcomes” are listed: [Read more →]
May 20, 2014 No Comments
“After several studies, the conclusion for why birds are drawn to the searing beams of the solar field goes like this: Insects are attracted to the bright light of the reflecting mirrors, much as moths are lured to a porch light. Small birds — insect eaters such as finches, swallows and warblers — go after the bugs. In turn, predators such as hawks and falcons pursue the smaller birds.
But once the birds enter the focal field of the mirrors, called the “solar flux,” injury or death can occur in a few seconds. The reflected light from the mirrors is 800 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Either the birds are incinerated in flight; their feathers are singed, causing them to fall to their deaths; or they are too injured to fly and are killed on the ground by predators, according to a report by the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.”
- David Danelski, Solar: Ivanpah Solar Described as Deadly Trap for Wildlife,” Riverside-Press Enterprise, April 8, 2014.
The slaughter of birds caught in the revolving blades of wind energy turbines has grabbed national attention lately. But even more pernicious is the nearly invisible vaporizing of birds that fly into the new Ivanpah solar mirror project in California’s Mojave Desert seeking to feed on the insects that are drawn to the light of the reflecting mirrors.
Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal mirror project in the world encompassing 4,000 acres of land and 347,000 heliostat mirrors focused on three 450-foot high towers. 377 megawatts of electricity is generated by a conventional steam turbine from concentrated heat from the mirrors. Solar thermal mirror energy plants are actually hybrid solar-natural gas power plants.
Counting bird deaths may be accurate for wind farms. But counting dead birds on the ground from solar mirror projects may be a highly inaccurate way to measure the impacts on the entire ecological food chain. That is because many birds are vaporized in mid air and often there is no trace left of them. Investigators call these “streamers,” referring to the momentary puffs of smoke as birds are vaporized. Here is how it is described: [Read more →]
May 7, 2014 3 Comments
“Can we really afford to adopt California’s policies, laws and regulations in the rest of America, and then throughout the world? For that matter, how much longer can the once Golden State afford to inflict those policies on its own citizens?”
When George Washington was stricken with malaria and a throat infection in 1799, his physicians used leaches to bleed a quart of blood and remove “morbid matter” from his weakened body. Next they administered laxatives and emetics. A few hours later, Washington died.
This cure worse than the disease finds close parallels in California’s energy and environmental policy. This is the state that leaches energy from its neighbors, and that President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency often view as their public policy standard bearer. But these energy “physicians” are threatening our nation’s lifeblood.
Governor Jerry Brown has pointed out that 30 million vehicles in California translate into “a lot of oil.” The day when its residents “can get around without using any gasoline” will be “the time for no more oil drilling,” he suggested, adding that offshore oil production has put “hundreds of millions of dollars” into Cal State University and other facilities. Onshore oil production has done likewise.
That sensible message has not reached the state’s legislators, regulators or environmental activists, however. They strongly oppose any drilling or hydraulic fracturing – and leading state Democrats are campaigning hard for at least a long temporary ban, trotting out long discredited claims that fracking causes groundwater contamination and even earthquakes. To that they have added the even more ludicrous assertion that this half-century-old technology results in birth defects! [Read more →]
May 1, 2014 5 Comments
Bill Roberts, economist for the Bay Area Economic Forum, warned in a 2007 study on the municipalization of local power purchases and generation in California:
If Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) operates any retained generation and Sonoma Clean Power purchases 100% of its power supply in the competitive market, Sonoma cannot avoid higher average electricity rates than PG&E unless it subsidizes rates (or someone wins the gamble of ‘beating the market’). [page 13, paraphrased for clarity].
Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) officials and advocates were whooping it up with recent news that some 94 percent of its electricity customers had “chosen” to drop service from investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric. Instead electricity customers would be transferred to its new municipal electric utility beginning in May (see Energy News Data, March 28). But Sonoma County electric ratepayers may want to think a second time about automatically “opting in” to the program.
Sonoma County is located north of San Francisco Bay and enjoys frontage along the Pacific Ocean. Sonoma County is considered part of California’s wine country including Napa and Mendocino Counties.
Sonoma Clean Power is a new municipal electric utility created under the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) law in California. This allows cities to disconnect from having to buy power from PG&E and purchase their own power, or build their own new clean power plants. All customers are automatically transferred to the new city owned-utility unless they want to choose to opt out. PG&E would continue to handle billings, maintenance, and transmission and distribution of electricity.
The justification for creating Sonoma Clean Power is that it can deliver cheaper, cleaner power to customers than PG&E. [Read more →]
April 23, 2014 1 Comment