Category — State Energy Issues
“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
- James Hansen, Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid, July 29, 2011.
Climate-change activist James Hansen speaks truth to power when he tells wind + solar = energy advocates “renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future.” He adds:
Recently I received a mailing on the climate crisis from a large environmental organization. Their request, letters and e-mails to Congress and the President, mentioned only renewable energies (specifically wind and solar power).
Such a request offends nobody, and it is worthless. Indeed, it is much less than worthless. If you drink the kool-aid … you are a big part of the problem.
But this has not prevented the Michigan Environmental Council and its affiliates from making a full-throated appeal for far higher renewable energy mandates at Gov. Rick Snyder’s statewide series of energy roundtable meetings.
The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and its allies have chosen one unifying theme for these events: coal-fired electrical generation kills people, and renewable energy (wind) is the cure.
To that end, the MEC commissioned a report called: “Public Health Impacts of Old Coal-Fired Power Plants in Michigan.” Analyzing the health care impacts of fine particulate emissions from Michigan’s nine oldest coal-fired generation plants, MEC concludes that : “the Michigan-specific health-related damages associated with [fine particulate] emissions from the nine coal-fired facilities [are] $1.5 billion annually…” [and cause] … 180 premature [coal emissions] deaths per year in Michigan.” [Read more →]
March 13, 2013 11 Comments
“Renewable energy subsidies harm the reliability of Texas electricity markets by resulting in artificially low sales prices, victimizing conventional energy generators and investors. Why build a new gas-fired plant when spot prices might be below production cost because wind receives a $0.02/kWh federal production tax credit?”
Last month, a cold front propelled Texas to a new record for wind power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wind-generated electricity provided 9,481 MW on Feb. 9, almost 28 percent of the power generated in ERCOT at that time. This surpassed the previous record of 8,667 MW set only two weeks earlier.
Hold the applause. These records are being set because of Texas’s renewable-energy mandate–the strictest in the nation–and a raft of special tax subsidies. This government largesse harms taxpayers, consumers, and businesses as documented in a study released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) last November.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when thinking about renewable energy and related subsidies: [Read more →]
March 12, 2013 6 Comments
“The Sustainable Development Challenge Grant program is also a step in implementing ‘Agenda 21, the Global Plan of Action on Sustainable Development,’ signed by the United States at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. All of these programs require broad community participation to identify and address environmental issues.”
- Environmental Protection Agency, 63 Fed. Reg. 45157 (August 24, 1998).
On January 26, 2012, I attended the final meeting in Batavia, NY, for the Finger Lakes “Regional ‘Sustainability’ Plan,” part of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s $10 million statewide program to have regional Planning Departments orchestrate “sustainability” plans described in NYSERDA’s “Cleaner, Greener Communities” Program. Here is my take on what is going on in regard to this extensive plan across New York State.
As those who have studied the United Nations’s ‘Agenda 21′ plan know, “Sustainability” is a key buzzword that is part-and-parcel of the UN’s ‘Agenda 21′. There is no doubt that the “Sustainability” Plan currently being devised by Planning Departments across the state, who are acting “under NYSERDA’s thumb” (as one Planner phrased it at their first meeting in Batavia), is ‘Agenda 21′ in the works (think carbon taxes, ‘green’ energy transfer-of-wealth schemes, and one-world governance).
At the “open-house style” meeting in Batavia last week, folks were asked to read the poster boards relevant to each part of the overall plan: Land Use, Water Use, Agriculture, Forestry, Waste Management, Economic Development, and Energy — and to then use sticky notes to post their comments on the boards for each particular segment of the plan. [Read more →]
March 5, 2013 16 Comments
“The Governor … earned the nod of those representing poorer districts by packing the bill with millions of dollars in grants to boost small and minority-owned businesses that might involve themselves in the offshore sector…. [P]rice caps on electricity bills [hides] the billions of dollars of extra cost that $190/MWh energy adds up to.”
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is convinced he’s found the right formula for ensuring that his state becomes the first to site a wind facility off its coastline. Last week Maryland’s House quietly approved HB 226. The Senate version (SB 275), although still in Committee, is also expected to pass despite much controversy over cost and risks to captive ratepayers–and back-door cronyism for developers and other special interests.
But don’t be fooled by the political victory. Despite the Governor’s grand claim that his bill will deliver offshore wind at an affordable price, the numbers tell a different story. O’Malley’s folly will deliver a paltry 80 megawatts of offshore wind at most, while draining billions of dollars from the State’s economy.
Offshore Wind: Too Expensive to Meter
Technological, environmental and visual impacts have slowed offshore wind development in the United States, but the primary, universal issue is cost. Offshore wind is not economically viable without significant public support, as O’Malley knows. [Read more →]
February 26, 2013 4 Comments
“[Sean] Lennon fancifully likened drilling and gas production to awakening a sleeping dragon. His mother said later of the comparison, ‘That’s beautiful,’ but, thinking on it some more, suggested ‘it’s a sign of a devil, actually. In my mind it’s more like a snake. A dragon is too big; you’re giving too much respect for this thing.’”
- Eric Roston, “On New York Shale Gas, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon Say Let It Be,” Bloomberg.com (January 23, 2013).
That’s Sean Lennon and his famous mother, Yoko Ono, speaking to reporters taking a tour of Susquehanna County, Pa., in an effort to highlight the supposed dangers of natural gas development. They were accompanied by Susan Sarandon, Josh Fox (producer of Gasland) and Ghandi’s grandson, not to mention a bevy of local anti-development celebrities.
But the real story was the long list of folks not invited on the tour, which was billed as an “informational” affair but, as you could expect, was anything but.
The luxurious Mercedes bus wasn’t hard to find in the Montrose Price-Chopper parking lot, so a few colleagues and I tagged along behind, watching as entertainment intersected with energy policy. (I’m the “white haired” guy with the nice jacket in the Bloomberg story, and I was accompanied by Rachael Colley, our Field Director, who captured some great video to memorialize the tour and wrote about it.)
A Day to Remember–or Forget
It was an utterly bizarre day, as might be expected when the star of the event is the woman who made “bed-ins” famous, supposedly broke up the Beatles, and has launched a crazy clothing line conceivable only by someone with $500 million of inherited wealth to throw around. [Read more →]
January 30, 2013 2 Comments
“You don’t want [California's] system with caps, where you have trading, you have derivatives, you have markets that then collapse and don’t actually reduce emissions much. That’s been tried in Europe, and it didn’t do much.”
- James Hansen, quoted in David Baker, “James Hansen Blasts Cap-and-Trade,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 5, 2012.
“Cap-and-trade’s complexity provides a breeding ground for special interests…. Why do those special interests deserve it anyhow?”
- James Hansen, “The People vs. Cap-and-Tax,” New York City, January 12, 2010.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen has long attracted criticism as the progenitor of modern climate alarmism. In recent years, Hansen has been prone to hyperbolic statements against fossil fuels, ignoring the moral imperative for abundant, affordable, and reliable mass energies (called progressive energy by Alex Epstein). Hansen has also engaged in civil disobedience for his wrong-headed cause.
Hansen’s alarmism, and its policy corollary of government-engineered energy transformation, is deeply troubled by three factors as documented by fellow climate scientist Chip Knappenberger:
- Global temperatures are not rising in tandem with greenhouse gas emissions (think global lukewarming);
- Hansen’s “climate dice” can be unloaded; and
- A carbon tax (Hansen’s alternative to cap-and-trade) is climatically useless.
Can James Hansen acknowledge the mere possibility of a benign or even positive human influence on climate? Such would be the beginning of an exit strategy, a soft landing, from what continues to shape up to be a Grand False Alarm. Hansen’s reconsideration, in fact, can begin with his own views of the 1990s on the complexity of his subject matter (see Appendix A).
Three Great Moments
But there is another side to the mad scientist that has interjected realism into the decarbonization debate. Three are mentioned here. [Read more →]
December 21, 2012 5 Comments
Since 2009, the State of New Hampshire has reviewed three large-scale wind energy facilities, totaling 177 megawatts. In each case, the project proponents engaged University of New Hampshire Professor and economist Ross Gittell and his research assistant, Matt Magnusson, to conduct economic impact studies to show the long-term (20-year) benefits the projects would deliver to the local area.
Figure 1 summarizes the findings of each report (please click for better resolution).
The UNH researchers relied on NREL’s Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) or similar linear spreadsheet models to assess job creation and economic impacts for the three projects: Granite Reliable Wind Park, Groton Wind and Antrim Wind. The methodologies and assumptions for the three studies appear nearly identical.
In all cases, their reports showed minor direct job opportunities (15 full-time equivalent positions for operations at the three sites) but substantially inflated indirect and induced job benefits relative to the local area. [Read more →]
December 12, 2012 2 Comments
For most economists, the workings of “price gouging” laws are simple and predictable. Binding price caps in emergencies create shortages on the most urgently needed goods and services during emergencies.
The recommended policy reform is simple, too: stop harming citizens when they can least afford it!
It would seem to be an open-and-shut case, a slam dunk for economics to inform the electorate and thus policymakers to avoid such folly. Remember the gasoline lines and natural gas shortages of the 1970s? Perhaps no simple event has convinced mainstream economists that price controls have bad consequences despite intention.
Defenders of economic liberty have an even easier argument: merchants ought to be free to ask what ever price they like for the goods and services they offer. Price gouging laws unjustly limit that freedom and government ought not to do that.
Yet, some 34 states and the District of Columbia have laws that impose price caps on urgently needed goods and services during emergencies. The easy arguments of free-market economists are not winning policy debates.
One response is to make it easier for the non-specialist to understand why price gouging laws cause more harm than good, as with Matt Zwolinski’s short video on price gouging for LearnLiberty.org. My own price gouging essay in Regulation magazine might serve a similar purpose for the non-specialist policymaker audience.
A complementary line of work digs deeper into the economics of price gouging in an effort to trace out the consequences of the laws. Defenders of price gouging prohibitions are comforted by their good intentions and a vague sense that somehow emergencies would be worse if prices were freer to adjust. Careful empirical and theoretical work on the consequences of price gouging laws can help undermine this false comfort.
In that spirit, here are ten researchable price gouging topics for economists. [Read more →]
December 11, 2012 2 Comments
While Invenergy waits for the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) to be extended by this ‘Lame Duck’ Congress, as expressed in the 12/4/12 Batavia Daily News article: “Orangeville windfarm waits on the tax credit,” there are thousands of local tax- and rate-paying citizens who are eagerly awaiting the expiration, permanent expiration, of this $0.022/kWh subsidy. The PTC is nothing more than a tax-shelter-generator for wealthy, multinational, rent-seeking corporations like Invenergy.
How does a business plan dependent on massive taxpayer-funded handouts for profitability make it past the drawing board in the first place?!? Any of us would have filed such a plan to its rightful place—in the garbage can.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)– with the help of political cronies in high places–have attempted, and failed to push the PTC through various bills, not once, not twice, but FIVE (5) times in a little over a year. Congressmen were inundated with letters, e-mails and phone calls each of those (5) previous attempts from a lot of us telling them to say NO to the PTC–which they did. Yet, here it comes again.
No Means NO!
We hope that our elected “public servants” understand that NO means NO! “We the People” do NOT want more wasteful spending on an inefficient, unreliable, antiquated energy source that ruins peoples’ lives, kills hundreds of thousands of birds a year, does nothing to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, and has exorbitant costs to boot. [Read more →]
December 10, 2012 3 Comments
Proposition 3, sponsored by by Michigan Energy-Michigan Jobs (MEMJ), would have forced utilities to produce 25 percent of Michigan’s electricity by 2025 from renewable sources, primarily industrial wind. Despite national backing and a lot of money spent, Michigan voters rejected the “25×25″ measure by a 64–36% margin.
Clearly, the voters saw through what would have been effectivity a tax increase on electricity which would threaten to endanger reliability as well.
This initiative was hardly local. It was driven by national pressure groups like the Sierra Club with their backing by natural gas company Chesapeake Energy, and the League of Conservation Voters, also heavily funded by deep-pocketed elites.
MEMJ itself was funded largely by the Green Tech Action Fund of San Francisco and the Natural Resources Defense Fund of New York, both darlings of green industrialists, particularly Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund billionaire.
These carpetbagger activists placed a bull’s-eye on Michigan ratepayers with Proposal 3. The Sierra Club was blunt: “If successful, the [Michigan] 25×25 initiative will send an important signal to the nation that public desire to move toward green energy remains strong.”
Answering the Sierra Club, Michigan ratepayers shouted that there is no such “public desire.” In fact, there is widespread opposition to mandating forest-denuding biomass and massively expensive solar. But the hottest conflict centers on industrial wind. [Read more →]
December 6, 2012 2 Comments