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Category — State Energy Issues

$5.4 Billion in Solar: California Goes All In

“The government support — which includes loan guarantees, cash grants and contracts that require electric customers to pay higher rates — largely eliminated the risk to the private investors and almost guaranteed them large profits for years to come. The beneficiaries include financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, conglomerates like General Electric, utilities like Exelon and NRG — even Google.”

- Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss, “A Gold Rush of Subsidies in Clean Energy Search,” New York Times, November 11, 2011.

A recent article by Pete Danko, “Solar Power Hitting New Records in California” (Earthechling.com) documents the dramatic growth of solar energy generation facilities in California. Three large-scale solar PV installations recently on-line or underway are: California Valley Solar Ranch; Antelope Valley Solar 1, and Topaz Solar Farm, together representing a nameplate capacity of over 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt).

Because of their size and cost, it is worthwhile to take a look at these three facilities in greater detail: [Read more →]

January 13, 2014   13 Comments

Testimony Against Industrial Wind Power (Kevon Martis before the Ohio Senate and House Public Utilities Committees)

“The world of wind energy lobbyists, developers, and their ‘environmental group’ advocates is one in which up is down, black is white, loud is quiet, double talk is the lingua franca, and the U.S. Constitution does not apply.”

Testimony of Kevon Martis Concerning Sub. SB 58 & HN 302, Ohio Senate and House Public Utilities Committees, November 13, 2013.

I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity to testify today. I have a BA in History from the University of Michigan. I have also served as the vice-chairman of the Riga Township planning commission as well as the vice-chairman of the Lenawee County Rural Land Use Committee. I lecture widely across the Michigan on wind-energy zoning matters. I have testified before the Michigan House Energy and Tech committee on energy policy and am a resource for legislators from both sides of the aisle.

As a volunteer ratepayer advocate, I believe I bring a unique perspective on what I will today call the “bizarro world” of industrial wind energy policy. Having been involved with those who are living on the receiving end of wind energy mandates like Ohio’s SB221 or Michigan’s PA295, I am in a position to testify about things that lobbyists roaming the halls of Columbus or Lansing prefer to keep unseen.

As those who testified before me have elegantly demonstrated, the world of wind energy lobbyists, developers, and their “environmental group” advocates is one in which up is down, black is white, loud is quiet, double talk is the lingua franca, and the U.S. Constitution does not apply.

Permit me to share my observations from a front row seat across the rural Midwest over the last 4 years: [Read more →]

January 8, 2014   2 Comments

California Energy Update: Part III

  • California Valley Solar Ranch Mothballed Morro Bay Gas-Fired Power Plant
  • California Shifting Power Rate Increases from One Set of Customers to Another
  • California Cap and Trade Accused of Double Counting Emissions
  • Will Warren Buffet’s Hydro Prevent CA Electricity Crisis? Part 1;
  • Will Warren Buffet’s Hydro Prevent CA Electricity Crisis? Part 2
  • Will California’s Small is Beautiful Sink Water (and Energy) Plan?

Morro Bay Power Plant Mothballed by California Valley Solar Ranch – Trading Fish Larvae Kills for Bird and Insect Kills

“Another giant Dinosaur has gone extinct.
An ugly power plant that looks like one, I think.
For 58 years, it has been unnecessary.
Sucking all the fish out of my Estuary.
It took a bank of people who were not afraid to fight.
We punched it in the nose and sent it off into the night.
The final straw was when a pod of Dolphins strayed in.
Got stuck and would up leaving without two of their kin.
Now we can protect our State Marine Reserve.
And have the kind of estuary we deserve.”

- Joey Racano, Morro Bay homeowner and activist, the San Luis Obispo Tribune News, November 8, 2013. [For the readers of MasterResource, Jerry Graf presented an excellent cash-flow analysis of the California Valley Solar Ranch located in inland San Luis Obispo County.]

What is not well known is that the California Valley Solar Ranch is designed to serve customers in the coastal City of Morro Bay where Texas’s Dynegy-owned gas-fired power plant is to be decommissioned by California’s ban on power plants using ocean water for cooling steam turbines. The ban on using “once-through cooling” water is to prevent harm to millions of fish larvae sucked into the 3/8th inch wide water inlet tubes to the plant. [Read more →]

December 17, 2013   1 Comment

Ohio’s Blue Creek Wind Farm: Predictable Underperformance

“Many people point to the mandates of Ohio Senate Bill 221 or other such legislation in other states, which require the use of fashionable generation methods for electricity, as justification for subsidizing investment into economically questionable energy generation projects.

To me this is an exercise in circular logic, mandating that we have to use more expensive means of generating electricity, and then using the rising cost of electricity to justify subsidizing more expensive means of generating electricity.”

Jerry Graf – Effective Energy Strategy (March 2013)

In an editorial response printed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (10/21/2013), four co-authors make the following points with regard to the Blue Creek Wind Farm and wind energy in general.

I have rearranged their words for brevity and direct the reader to the Journal Gazette website to read verbatim. Our rebuttal letter follows:

Electricity from wind is very high in true cost and low in true value

Electricity from wind turbines is low in value because it can’t be counted on to be available when needed, and it is most likely to be produced at times when it is least needed. Wind turbines tend to produce most of their electricity at night in cold months, not on hot weekday afternoons in July and August when demand for electricity is highest. Furthermore, the electricity from wind tends to be low in value because the output can’t be counted upon to be available at the time of peak demand, unlike reliable (“dispatchable”) generating units that can be called upon to produce whenever needed. [Read more →]

December 3, 2013   5 Comments

Colorado’s Cedar Point Wind Farm – Energy Strategy or Corporate Welfare?

“Speaking subjectively, when we provide natural gas, coal, or nuclear with subsidies, we get thousands and thousands of gigawatt-hours of constant, concentrated, and reliable electricity that drives our economy. When we provide solar and wind with subsidies, we do not get enough electricity to pay back even as much as the initial investment; and that electricity is not constant, not concentrated, and not reliable. In fact it has to be continuously backed up by natural gas, or nuclear, or coal just to keep the lights on.”

- Jerry Graf, Energy Subsidies in the USA (March 2013)

Earlier this week, in commentary under an article on a different site, I was informed that my assertions that current wind and solar technologies were less-than-effective alternative-energy sources were “not true.”

I was asked to search for information regarding “Xcel wind & solar”, and also informed that Xcel’s projects were providing energy with competitive Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) as low as $60MWh.  No additional details regarding any specific projects were provided. [Read more →]

November 20, 2013   14 Comments

‘Energy Imbalancing Market’: Bailing Out California Green Power Two Hours/Day

“An Energy Imbalance Market would mainly have to rely on cheap hydropower in the Western U.S. to offset high green power prices and high peaker power prices during the sunset hours of the day. Ironically, California banned hydropower as “renewable energy” under the California Global Warming Solutions Act …. Now, cheap hydropower has to come to the rescue of the green power grid.”

California is trying to do a quick splicing job to its green energy grid by creating an “Energy Imbalancing Market” to cut off an emerging daily two-hour energy-pricing crisis. The crisis isn’t so much an imbalance of the availability of electrons but imbalanced electricity prices during the sunset hours of each day.

In today’s California energy market, the grid operator must balance loads and resources within its borders. In an Energy Balancing Market, the grid operator schedules resources across regional balancing authorities to balance energy. An energy imbalance is the difference between live demand and prearranged scheduled resources. California is part of the Western Interconnection Coordinating Council (WECC), which includes 33 control areas shown here. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved California’s implementation of an Energy Imbalancing Market by October 2014.

California’s “Duck Chart” Problem Can’t Be Ducked

An emerging problem with California’s new green power grid is how to ramp up enough conventional power each day when solar power is sunsetting and mostly nighttime wind power isn’t spinning enough yet to take over. [Read more →]

November 13, 2013   4 Comments

California Energy Update: Part II

  • CA’s Green Energy Swan Turning Into Ugly Duckling; $5 Gas in CA? Lack of Cap-and-Trade Price Ceiling Could Bring It;
  • Santa Barbara Picks Drilling Over Greening;
  • Green Actions Cause One-Third of Human Caused Earthquakes; Study Questions Whether Fracking Causes Earthquakes;
  • New Fracking Website Posted Online by Western Petroleum Association

California’s Green Energy Swan Turning Into Ugly Duckling

In the upside down world of California energy, no longer are the hot summer months or the occasional winter cold snap the only peak period of hourly risk to the state’s electric grid. The new daily peak hours of each day from 4 pm to 7 pm during the “shoulder months” of March, April and May and September, October, and November are the new peak month/hour times. What is causing this shift in peak time power is California’s transition to solar energy as the major source of base load power during day. California is in the process of transitioning up too 33%, and eventually to 51%, of its power from green energy sources under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (also called Assembly Bill 32).

Of particular concern to California’s Independent System Operator (ISO) are three hour periods in the Spring and Fall. It would be the sunset period of each day, not mid-day, that is already beginning to present a critical challenge to the reliability of electricity for customers. The problem during the critical hours from 4 to 7 pm is the steep ramp up of conventional gas-fired power as solar power winds down at sunset. [Read more →]

October 30, 2013   3 Comments

Repsol, Burned in Argentina, Comes to Alaska (but will the state’s tax reform survive referendum?)

Would you rather invest your money in a safe or an unsafe place? Spanish oil and gas company Repsol, the 15th largest hydrocarbon entity in the world, has answered that question by shifting its attention from Argentina to Alaska and other areas inside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Background

In 1998 Repsol paid $13 billion for nearly 60% of YPF, the Argentine oil company.  In 2010, Repsol discovered a significant oil shale play in an area called Vaca Muerta. All seemed well for the investor and for locals for greater economic activity and more energy.

But in 2011, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner nationalized 51 percent of YPF, leaving Repsol with 6.4 percent ownership . Repsol wants $10.5 billion in compensation; Argentina’s most recent offer is $1.5 billion. There is a chance that Repsol could get less or nothing.

Production has declined with the fight, eight percent in 2012 alone. The EU, UK, Mexico, Chile and Colombia have condemned Argentina’s action, as has the U.S. State Department.

Senate Bill 21: Alaska Oil Open for Business

In 2011, Repsol acquired a large lease position in Alaska given the rich prospecting and the upside of positive tax reform in the state. The latter occurred in mid-2013 with the passage of Senate Bill 21, the More Alaskan Production Act, signed into law by Governor Sean Parnell.

The pro-reform, pro-production bill, while an improvement over the prior regime, is still complicated. The new law: [Read more →]

October 25, 2013   No Comments

The California Current: Weekly Digest (October 4, 2013)

[The following is a weekly digest of California energy news excerpted from Calwatchdog.com.  This inaugural report will be followed by updates from the world's 8th largest economy every one-to-two weeks, depending on  developments.   MasterResource welcomes Mr. Lusvardi to our team (bio below).]

California Dems pass pro-fracking bill; CPUC Blacks-Out Green Power Prices from Consumers; Rooftop Solar to Cost Other Customers $1.1 Billion per Year

A Pro-Fracking Bill Disguised as an Anti-Fracking Bill

Can you imagine California’s Democratic-controlled legislature and Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown passing a pro-fracking bill?  Neither could the mainstream media in California that reported state officials had passed an anti-fracking bill on Sept. 20 sponsored by State Senator Fran Pavley (D, Los Angeles County), the leader of the green voting block in both houses of the legislature.

State Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) was reported by green reporter Chris Clarke on his Re-Wire blog at the KCET public television website as requiring:  (1) a scientific assessment of fracking, (2) frackers to apply for permits, (3) fracking to continue while state crafts further regulations, (4) fracking permits to be provided to nearby property owners within 30 days; and (5) regulation of injecting acid into the ground, not fracking per se.  A legislative analysis of SB 4 can be found here, including a list of those who supported or opposed the bill. 

SB 4 was amended ten times.  It was opposed by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Physicians for Social Responsibility and a number of oil companies and the state Chamber of Commerce.  The California League of Conservation Voters and the National Resources Defense Council pulled their support at the last moment when fracking moratorium provisions were removed.  Who supported and opposed the bill is not a good indicator of whether the bill was pro or anti fracking.  If Republicans had supported SB 4 this would have been a signal for California’s environmentalists to oppose it. 

The reality of what SB 4 provided was the opposite of what was reported. [Read more →]

October 5, 2013   3 Comments

Gov. Brown vs. Brown on the Climate ‘Crisis’

“Sadly, the narrative supporting anthropogenic global warming has less to do with protecting the Earth, but more to do with redistributing wealth through climate change policies…. [R]ather than take the indicators’ report at face value, policy-makers would be better served to ask whether the indicators referenced in the report are accurate, relevant to our current environmental remedies and if they provide for reproducible results in the future.”

Will California stay the futile course of warring against the green greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide? Or will the state yield to economic and climate realities?

As country after country and state after state rethink and retreat from public policies to significantly reduce believed-to-be anthropogenic climate change, California is the holdout. Will the Governor, his administration, the Legislature and environmental interest groups listen to actual science or continue to listen to fear mongers.

Such a reconsideration of the failed status quo can begin by critically assessing the Brown Administration’s own assessment of various climate change “indicators.” Simply recognizing the report’s contradictions can inspire a reform effort to stop injuring the world’s eighth largest economy one paper cut at a time.

Governor Jerry Brown has a warning for you: [Read more →]

September 19, 2013   1 Comment