Today’s Houston Chronicle has two takes on the recent decision by hometown Dynegy to pull back from participating in the construction of new coal plants and concentrate on expanding capacity at its existing plants.
The Chronicle‘s lead editorial, “No King Coal,” citing air pollution and global warming fears, applauded the pullback as socially good. “Dynegy officials deserve credit for moving in a new direction that will ultimately benefit the city, their stockholders and their customers,” the Chronicle stated. The editorial quoted an environmentalist lobbying against Dynegy’s coal plans: “With this development coal-fired power is one step closer to being mothballed once and for all in the U.S.”
The Chronicle‘s business editorialist Loren Steffy had a different take. In today’s column, “Applause for Pullout from Coal Venture is Misguided,” Steffy rejects the environmentalist dream that storage-capable wind and solar, combined with energy efficiency, is anywhere near ready for prime time. He warns against heavy-handed government policies blocking new gas- and coal-fired power plants and warns, “We’re trading reliability for promises that may leave us cheering in the dark.”
Steffy is no industry shill. He is an open-minded populist who knows the difference between energy reality and environmentalist dreams. And he cares about consumers who want affordable, reliable energy for their growing needs. A student of the late Enron, Steffy also knows what company was responsible for the renewable energy mandate that saddled Texas with the artificial wind industry.
Stay tuned: The Chronicle speaks with different voices when it comes to energy policy.