The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is on a mission to keep its members fat and happy as they bloat up at the public trough. The goals are simple:
1) Create a set-aside power market that pays a premium for wind energy and eliminates competition for lower-cost, more reliable fuel options;
2) Encourage policies that pave the way for wind-related transmission development at the expense of rate- and taxpayers; and
3) Make permanent the free-flow of public subsidies for renewables and shield the spigot from changing political and economic tides.
In the last two years, AWEA’s had some success. On the power market front, more than half the States have RPS programs mandating that a percentage of their electricity needs be met with renewable energy. Many states have loose enough standards to avoid the damage that otherwise would be done, but Texas, in particular, has coerced its way into windpower growth (the legacy of Enron, by the way).…
Reprinted below is a letter-to-the-editor that I wrote to The Electricity Journal in response to an essay by Michael Shepard, “Turning the Climate Challenge into Business Opportunity” (The Electricity Journal, 1999, vol. 12, issue 10, pages 82-84).
The test of scholarship is how one’s arguments hold up over time. The state of knowledge changes as new evidence accumulates, so it is important to keep past work in the context of the year it was written (1999).
But what do we know now versus then? And how do you think this rebuttal reads 11 years later? (One data point: Robert Mendelsohn of Yale still believes in the conclusions of his work that I reference below as he communicated to me by email.)
Michael Shepard guest editorial, “Turning the Climate Challenge into Business Opportunity,” is premised on such statements as “the climate problem is real” and “the imperative [is] to stabilize the atmosphere’s loading of greenhouse gases.” Such alarmism and jawboning to get energy companies to divert resources toward carbon dioxide abatement is premature at best and counterproductive at worse.
At a time when energy realists need to take the high ground, corporations are bringing us low. Some of this is old fashioned rent-seeking; some greenwashing; and some just political correctness (as if California was the world).
For weeks, Siemens has been running full-page ads for wind technology. Last week Chevron and Weyerhauser, in full-page ads, agree “IT’S TIME OIL COMPANIES GET BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY.”
The same slush is coming from GE, AES, BP, Shell, NRG, and a legion of corporations whose fundamental commodity is fossil fuel.
Do these multinationals really believe that wind and solar will put a dent in their fossil fuel market share? Or is something else afoot? One should note that nowhere does this renewable ballyhoo from today’s energy goliaths mention a word about saving the world from the devastation of climate change wrought by the consequences of fossil fuel use, although this was the tack Ken Lay took to steer Enron’s aggressive renewables course.…