A Free-Market Energy Blog

Henrietta Larson: A Scholar for the Ages (her business histories are among the greatest energy tomes)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 20, 2018

“What we have done is … to put business in its broader political and cultural setting…. We are not out to defend business, but to try to do an impartial, scholarly investigation of an important American institution.”

 – Henrietta Larson (1894–1983), Harvard business historian

For many decades, corporate histories were dominated by simplistic notions of big-is-bad and capitalist exploitation. Yes, Ida Tarbell documented many innovations and economies from John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, but she jumped to examples to paint the Standard Trust as ultimately evil in its exploitation of competitors.

Much “Robber Baron” history followed in the decades after Tarbell, failing to comprehend the advantages of industrialization and to differentiate free-market entrepreneurship on the one hand from corporate/government cronyism on the other. As Harvard business historian Thomas McCraw would later explain:

Without the benefit of a vocabulary that distinguished conceptually between center and peripheral firms, productive and allocative efficiency, vertical and horizontal integration, economies of scale and transaction cost, these observers had only their personal sensibilities and political ideologies to guide them.

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Betting the House on Plant Vogtle

By Joseph Pokalsky -- September 18, 2018

[Editor Note: The touted nuclear power renaissance in the United States has been stymied by engineering, procurement, and construction problems with new-generation plants, namely Westinghouse’s AP1000 design. With yet another recently announced cost overrun, two minority owners of Plant Vogtle III and IV must soon decide on whether to continue with their investment with another ante-up for what was originally estimated to cost $14.3 billion (with a four-year construction period) that is now estimated by the majority owner to cost $25 billion with years still to run. 

The author below reports on the latest developments for the two Vogtle Units and provides the framework for an unbiased, probability-based model that can be used by the minority owners to support their upcoming decision on the project.]

“The reluctance to cancel this project stems from the fact that so much has been expended to date.

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‘Peak Oil’ is Now Demand, not Supply

By -- September 17, 2018

“The tendency to exaggerate the appeal of renewables is hardly new…. Except that renewables seem to fare poorly in the real world.”

“The much-hyped ‘mass market’ Tesla Model 3 is still appearing only in the more expensive versions, from $50,000 to $85,000, rather than the $35,000 promised sticker price that was promised to appeal to the average consumer, not the luxury car driver.”

Yet another study has appeared warning of peak fossil fuel demand, which is certainly a popular topic with the media as the heavy fire season in the Southwest and hot European summer convince many that global warming is more threatening (and urgent) than it appeared to be last summer.

Unfortunately, this attention is not the result of reasoned analysis so much as the sexiness of the issue—at least in the minds of the public and the media.

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The U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation: 1981–86 (yes, federal agencies can be abolished)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 13, 2018
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Paying the Price for Renewables (Georgetown, TX power surplus generates cost deficits)

By -- September 12, 2018
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“Gore’s Greenness Fades” (remembering a 2000 WP article in light of this week’s Global Climate Summit)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 11, 2018
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Energy & Environmental Newsletter: September 10, 2018

By -- September 10, 2018
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Corporate Cover for the Environmental Left in the 1990s (“Enron Ascending”)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 6, 2018
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A New Energy Treatise (via a ‘contra-capitalist’ company)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 5, 2018
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Twenty-Five Industrial Wind Energy Deceptions

By -- September 4, 2018
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