A Free-Market Energy Blog

Open Thread Monday (for veterans of the energy policy wars)

By administrator -- November 12, 2012

Today is your day.

What energy issues would you like to bring up that are atop your mind? What issues should MasterResource be including that our contributers may not have covered? Or what energy market developments are existing or potential policy drivers for the next years?

Tomorrow will resume our regular fare with Trends Can Change: Part II, authored by noted economist and historian Richard Ebeling. The broader topic of social change is important at this juncture given the ascendancy of neo-Malthusian and neo-Keynesian politics. Comments on political strategy are invited too.


  1. Fabian S.  

    Please take a look at Germany’s energy policy, energy prices and effectivness of the widespread use of ‘green’ energy.
    Starting post-Fukushima with the so called ‘Energiewende’ (Energy transition). Hopes, expectations, and the reality today.

    best wishes


  2. Otter  

    A person on the site I post my climate articles to (Deviantart), has said in his journal, that obama’s 90 billion in green energy handouts, was ‘mostly succesful.’

    May I ask (everyone’s!) opinion of that?


  3. Lisa Linowes  

    Thanks for asking. Over the last ten years, demand forecasts for electricity have consistently overstated actual consumption. In New England, like many parts of the country, load demand has been flat or declining.

    With natural gas prices driving down the price of wholesale electricity (other than renewables) we should be seeing only a limited need for new capacity, no need for new transmission, and lower energy costs all-around. Instead, the Obama administration and States with RPS mandates, continue to promote unrealistic policies for wind and solar. In this period of record debt and un/underemployment, these policies are forcing billions of dollars to be spent on expansive wind-related transmission build outs and greenfield projects that cannot meet our energy needs yet demand wholesale prices that are 2-3 times above-market.

    I would like to see more discussion on how we can meet carbon-reduction goals and changing demand needs without abusive, top-down mandates.


  4. Kent Hawkins  

    In my final post of the Wind Consequences series (http://www.masterresource.org/2012/09/wind-consequences-v/), I said,

    “…electricity policy decisions… should include a proper assessment of such factors as high-quality electricity needs, sustainability, economics and complete assessment of the relative risks involved. Policy determination must be followed by well architected and engineered solutions, not politically mandated solutions.”

    A necessary part of the process is a program of public education based on such comprehensive analysis.

    What is also needed is for informed bodies, that are not government or special interest group based, to participate in this process. I want to say unbiased, informed bodies, but we must realize that some bias will always be present, and can be properly taken into account.

    What if a report of this nature from such a body existed that assessed future energy options based on their relevance to improved health measures (including air and water quality, food supply, and medical considerations), security measures (including the range from household to world peace), economic/wealth measures (including economic well-being from personal to the world economy and the natural environment), and education-system measures (including from the personal to the education system and considerations of work environment)? What might it say?

    At this stage such a report would be, at best, only a good first step but an important departure from much more narrow evaluations from special interest groups.

    Stay tuned!


  5. Kent Hawkins  


    For starters, have a look at European energy policy in general already published at MasterResource (http://www.masterresource.org/2012/01/eu-roadmap-2050/ and http://www.masterresource.org/2011/12/european-energy-policy-tramping/)


  6. rbradley  

    Reality bats last, as they say. With all the failures of so-called green energy at home and abroad (including Germany–see Fabian S. above), and in a period of fiscal cutbacks, surely the future of gov’t-enabled energies is bleak.

    The old ‘guns or butter’ debate over government spending is now ‘cronyism or butter’–or should be something like that.


  7. Tom Stacy  

    Speaking directly to the veteran’s day post, I think it is vital for our military to recognize the same realities about renewables that we hope and expect lawmakers will. Knowing AWEA sent a group of veterans to DC recently to lobby for PTC extension, it may be wise to try to address military leaders’ and veterans’ misconceptions about what wind can – and cannot – do for national defense and our economy.

    First, wind and solar may offer opportunities in mobile and remote operations where grid access is unattainable. We know wind saves some fuel but none of the capital expense of conventional generation. In windy locations abroad where diesel fuel is expensive to buy and deliver to bases, wind supplementation could actually save some money. But these situations obviate the fact that wind cannot act by itself as an electricity source, and any generators needed at such locations will still be needed. If the cost of procuring and erecting wind turbines at such locations costs less than the fuel they save, this is a good application. Beyond that, arguments for military use of wind fail to pass the sanity test.

    For instance, a military base near Sandusky, OH is pushing forward with plans to erect several wind machines in a major migratory flyway and (of course) at taxpayer expense. But the base has access to the grid, which supplies dependable, full time, cost-effective electricity fueled not by foreign oil, but by domestic nuclear, coal, natural gas and hydro. That pretty much addresses the idea that we will fight less wars if we erect more wind machines. Furthermore, America’s leadership role in the world relies on military strength, which in turn relies on economic strength. Economic strength will rely more and more on sound energy policy, as lowest-possible domestic energy prices lever manufacturing competitiveness, international trade balance, employment and help keep inflation in check.

    Wind electricity where grid electricity is available is neither economically sustainable nor an effective means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.


  8. greg  

    I would love to see more on the relationship between health and energy prices. The EPA will be issuing a bunch of regulations and claim they are justified because of health benefits. But what are the health effects from the lost jobs, higher energy prices, etc from expesntive regulation.


  9. rbradley  

    Yes, Greg, the health-is-wealth argument is key. Ken Green and Marlo Lewis are all over this and might be able to revisite their analysis in light of the next wave of cost-insenitive regulation.


  10. Sandy Liddy Bourne  

    We should take a hard look at infrastructure and the energy grid as whole. Part of the problem with gas lines in NY is the fact that we no longer pipe fuel to regions due to the ethanol mandates. San Diego and parts of Mexico went dark due to a repair error in Arizona. Gasoline prices shot up in CA because two refineries had major fires. All military bases in the U.S. are dependent upon the national grid and can no longer function independently if the nation is under threat. As we pull up dams for “environmental benefit” we lose flood control and hydropower sources of electricity. We are taking away the redundancy in the infrastructure system that helps to ensure reliability.


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