Marita Noon: Germany’s Energy Transformation

Marita Noon

Link to: Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system (I’d really appreciate it if you would click on this link to RedState.com and select the “recommend” option. If a column on RedState gets a lot of “Recommends,” it gets the editors’ attention and has a higher likelihood of being posted on the front page where the readership is much higher. After all, I work so hard to produce good content each week so people will read it and be informed, and act, on the issues. The option? Gruber is right about the people.)

Greetings!

This year’s climate change talks in Lima, Peru, ended yesterday with a watered down compromise and virtually no major news coverage—leading one to believe that they’ve become almost irrelevant. My column this week, Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system (attached and pasted-in-below), uses the talks and Germany’s recent decision to ratchet up its commitment to carbon dioxide reductions as the launching place to discuss what the U.S. should be learning from Germany’s renewable energy experiment. After all, our legislators are currently wrestling with whether or not to extend subsidies for renewables.

Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system features many quotes and observations from a report done by a Swiss group that closely analyzed Germany’s Energiewende and offered important lessons the U.S. and other countries should learn from—whether or not we will remains to be seen. But, as I say in my closing remarks, an educated constituency is important! My writing, and your sharing of it, is part of the education process.

Thanks for posting, passing on, and/or personally enjoying Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system. Once again, I’ve attached both the full-length- and 900-word versions. If you post my work, please use whichever you feel is best for your audience.

Merry Christmas!

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system

Perhaps when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was a child, she attend a party and was the only one who came without a present, or wearing inappropriate attire—and the embarrassment she felt haunts her to this day. That’s how psycho-dynamic psychology (Freud) might explain her December 3 decision spend more money on Germany’s failing energy experiment to avoid, as Reuters puts it: “the embarrassment of missing her government’s goal of a 40 percent reduction of emissions by 2020.”

As Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has also embraced the biggest carbon dioxide reductions through a program known as “Energiewende”—or, in English, also called energy change, shift, or transformation. Energiewende was launched in 2000 under Merkel’s predecessor who offered subsidies for any company that produced green energy.

While the European Union (E.U.) has committed to carbon dioxide cuts of 40 percent by 2030, Germany’s national goal aims to get there a decade sooner—which may have seemed achievable early in the program. After the 1990 reunification of Germany, the modernization of East Germany brought rapidly reduced emissions. However, the program’s overall result has raised costs and the emissions the expensive programs were designed to cut.

A few months ago, Bloomberg reported that due to increased coal consumption: “Germany’s emissions rose even as its production of intermittent wind and solar power climbed fivefold in the past decade”—hence Merkel’s potential embarrassment on the global stage where she’s put herself in the spotlight as a leader in reducing emissions.

On December 3, while 190 governments were meeting for two weeks of climate change talks in Lima, Peru (which, after 30 hours of overtime, produced a compromise deal that environmental groups see “went from weak to weaker to weakest”), Merkel’s cabinet agreed to a package that continues Germany’s optimistic—though unrealistic—goal and increases subsidies for measures designed to cut emissions. Regarding Germany’s “climate protection package”, Barbara Hendricks, Environment Minister, admitted: “if no additional steps were taken, Germany … would miss its targets by between five to eight percentage points.”

The results of the German agreement will require operators of coal-fueled power plants to reduce emissions by at least 22 million tons—the equivalent of closing eight of them. The Financial Times (FT) believes the plan will “lead to brownouts in German homes.”

With the goal of generating 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, Germany has aggressively pursued a green dream with unsustainable subsidies that have produced an unstable system described by FT, on November 25, as: “a lesson in doing too much too quickly on energy policy.”

So, what are the lessons? What should the U.S., and other countries, learn from Germany’s generous subsidy programs and rapid, large-scale deployment and integration of renewable energy into the power system? These are the questions U.S. legislators should be asking themselves as they argue over a tax extender package that includes a retroactive extension for the now-expired Production Tax Credit for wind energy.

Fortunately, the answers are easy to determine. Finadvice, a Switzerland based advisor to the utility and renewable industry, did an exhaustive study: “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy—Lessons Learned from Germany.” The introductory comments of the resulting report, includes the following statement: “The authors of this white paper would like to state that they fully support renewables as a part of the power portfolio. …a couple [of the authors] have direct equity interests in renewable projects.” The author’s viewpoint is an important consideration, especially in light of their findings. They wanted Germany’s experiment to work, yet they begin the Executive Summary with these words:

“Over the last decade, well-intentioned policymakers in Germany and other European countries created renewable energy policies with generous subsidies that have slowly revealed themselves to be unsustainable, resulting in profound, unintended consequences for all industry stakeholders. While these policies have created an impressive roll-out of renewable energy resources, they have also clearly generated disequilibrium in the power markets, resulting in significant increases in energy prices to most users, as well as value destruction for all stakeholders: consumers, renewable companies, electric utilities, financial institutions, and investors.”

After reading the entire 80-page white paper, I was struck with three distinct observations. The German experiment has been has raised energy costs to households and business, the subsidies are unsustainable, and, as a result, without intervention, the energy supply is unstable.

Cost

We, in the U.S., are constantly being told that renewable energy is close to cost parity with traditional power sources such as coal and natural gas. Yet, the study clearly points out the German experiment has resulted in “significant increases in energy prices to most users”—which will “ultimately be passed on to electricity consumers.” Germany’s cost increases, as much as fifty percent, are manmade not market-made—due to regulation rather than the trust costs. The high prices disproportionately hurt the poor giving birth to the new phrase: “energy poverty.”

The higher costs hurt—and not just in the pocket book. The authors cite an International Energy Agency report: “The European Union is expected to lose one-third of its global market share of energy intensive exports over the next two decades due to high energy prices.”

Subsidies and instability are big factors in Germany’s high prices.

Subsidies

To meet Germany’s green goals, feed-in tariffs (FIT) were introduced as a mechanism that allows for the “fostering of a technology that has not yet reached commercial viability.” FITs are “incentives to increase production of renewable energy.” About the FITs, the report states: “This subsidy is socialized and financed mainly by residential customers.” And: “Because of their generosity, FITs proved capable of quickly increasing the share of renewable power.”

Germany’s original FITs, “had no limit to the quantity of renewables to be built” and “lead to unsustainable growth of renewables.” As a result, Germany, and other E.U. countries have “had to modify, and eventually phase out, their program because of the very high costs of their renewable support mechanisms.”

Germany has also begun to introduce “self-generation fees” for households and businesses that generate their own electricity—typically through rooftop solar, “to ensure that the costs of maintaining the grid are paid for by all consumers, not just those without rooftop PVs.” These fees remove some of the cost-saving incentive for expensive solar installation.

Section four of the report, “Unintended Consequences of Germany’s Renewable Policies,” concludes: “Budgetary constraints, oversupply and distortion of power prices, transaction-specific operational performance, market economics (i.e. Germany proposing to cut all support for biogas), debt structures, and backlash of consumers paying higher prices were all factors contributing to regulatory intervention. Projecting past 2014, these factors are expected to continue over the next several years.”

Stability

Hopefully, by now, most people—especially my readers—understand that the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar energy means that in order for us to have the lights go on every time we flip the switch (stability) every kilowatt of electric capacity must be backed up for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. But, what most of us don’t think about, that the report spotlights, is that because the favored renewables benefit from “priority dispatch”—which means that if a renewable source is generating power, the utility company must buy and use it rather than the coal, natural gas or nuclear power it has available—the traditional power plants operate inefficiently and uneconomically. “Baseload thermal plants were designed to operate on a continuous base. …they were built to operate at their highest efficiencies when running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Now, due to renewables, these plants operate only a fraction of the time—though the cost to build and maintain them is constant. “The effect of fewer operational hours needs to be compensated by higher prices in these hours.”

Prior to the large integration of renewables, power plants earned the most when demand is high—in the middle of the day (which is also when the most solar power is generated). The result impacts cost recovery. “There are fewer hours in which the conventional power plants earn more than the marginal cost since they run fewer hours than originally planned and, in many cases, provide back-up power only.”

This translates into financial difficulties for the utilities that have resulted in lower stock prices and credit ratings. (Note: utility stocks often make up a large share of retirement portfolios.) Many plants are closed prematurely—which means the initial investment has not been recovered.

Because the reduced use prevents the power plants from covering their full costs—yet they must be available 24/7, power station operators in Germany are now seeking subsidies in the form of “capacity payments.” The report explains that a plant threatened to close because of “economic problems.” However, due to its importance in “maintaining system stability” the plant was “kept online per decree” and the operator’s fixed costs are compensated.

*****
Anyone who reads “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy” will conclude that there is far more to providing energy that is efficient, effective and economical than the renewable fairytale storytellers want consumers to believe. Putting a solar panel on your roof is more involved than just installation. The German experiment proves that butterflies, rainbows and pixy dust won’t power the world after all—coal, natural gas, and nuclear power are all important parts of the power portfolio.

Why, then, did Merkel continue Germany commitment to an energy and economic suicide? It is all part of the global shaming that takes place at the climate change meetings like the one that just concluded in Lima, Peru.

If only U.S. legislators would read “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy” before they vote for more subsidies for renewable energy, but, heck, they don’t even read the bill—which is why calls from educated constituents are so important. I am optimistic. Maybe we could learn from Germany’s experience what they haven’t yet learned themselves.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Stuck Between ObamaCare And A Republican Congress

If you are a fan of ObamaCare, you can keep it, if you can afford it. If you like the Republican congress that just helped insure amnesty and ObamaCare is with us, at least for the short-run, you are stuck with them for at least two or more years.

If you read the article following the link pasted below, you may decide your Ocare is not be so wonderful. I’m sad to say, “Merry Christmas, anyway.” No really; “Merry Christmas,” and follow the link below for your lump of coal.

The article you will access comes from Hillsdale College‘s house organ, Imprimis. You’ll need to click twice.

Obamacare_2014_11

 

Conspiracy Brews 12.13.14

If you like your coffee and your politics flavorful, served with a heaping dose of civility by a diverse group of interesting people from all parts of the political spectrum then you should be joining us every Saturday. Started in 2007 over coffee and lively conversation by a group of concerned friends and neighbors, ‘Conspiracy Brews’ is committed to finding solutions to some of our State’s toughest problems. Our zest for constructive political discourse is only equaled by our belief that the only way forward is to exchange our views in a relaxed and friendly setting. For additional information or to be added to our e-mail list contact: ConspiracyBrews@aol.com.
Conspiracy Brews

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

Benjamin Franklin

Not your average political discussion group!
December 13, 2014
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
at
Southwest Secondary Learning Center
10301 Candelaria Rd NE
(northwest corner of Candelaria and Morris)

We think that government should be open and honest at all times.
People from all political parties are welcome.
*** Quotes of the Week ***

                           “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

Suggested Topics

– What, the NM Supreme Court got it right?

– So, what do you think of the Congressional budget deal?

– What is your wish list for the Round House next year?

(Light Quotes of the week)

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Albert Einstein

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

Mae West

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas A. Edison

——-

Sneaky Cat; That Obama

Essentially, as Marita reports, Obama with all of his latest environmental edicts, remains the sneaky cat he has always been.

Read On:

Greetings!

You know the Obama administration hides unpopular policy by introducing it at times when people are not paying attention—one such time is the Wednesday afternoon just before Thanksgiving. It is my job, our job, to get these important, though hidden, issues out there so people know about them and can respond.

You probably know that within the bundle of thousands of new regulation that the administration released on Thanksgiving eve was new ozone standards. But, like me, you may not know how onerous they are as there has been very little news coverage on the topic. When I did my research, I was shocked at the potential impact of this proposed rule—it hits virtually every energy source and manufacturing.

In Welcome to the O-zone—where economic development is a zero-sum game (attached and pasted-in-below) I explain the rule and lay out the impacts—connecting dots that I have not seen connected elsewhere. This new rule needs to be viewed as being laid on top of all of the other regulations and for its ability to thwart oil and gas development and economic growth through manufacturing.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Welcome to the O-zone—where economic development is a zero-sum game

Late in the day on Thanksgiving eve, when no one was paying attention, the Obama administration released its Unified Agenda—a regulatory roadmap of thousands of regulations being finalized in 2015. Within the bundle of more than 3000 regulations is a rule on ozone that President Obama himself, in 2011, “put on ice” in an effort to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.” Regarding the 2011 decision that shocked environmental groups, the New York Times (NYT) recently stated: “At the time, Mr. Obama said the regulation would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments at a time of economic distress.”

So, why has the rule that the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) calls: “the most expensive ever imposed on industry in America,” come back? First, Obama isn’t facing an election—which, while the White House denied it, most believe to be the reason for the 2011 about-face. More importantly, however, is the fact that following the 2011 decision that struck down the proposed ozone rule, environmental groups sued the Obama administration. The resulting court order required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release the proposed rule by December 1, with finalization by October 2015.

Once again, environmental groups—who, on September 21, came out of the closet and revealed that their true intention is system change (“capitalism is the disease, socialism is the cure”)—are in charge of America’s energy, and, therefore, economic policy. They have systematically chipped away America’s sources of economic strength: cost-effective energy. And we’ve let them.

What they are doing is reminiscent of the classic poem, attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller, which is quoted at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

First, they came after coal. It was at a time when natural gas was cheap and touted as the “bridge fuel” to the future. No one much spoke out. Some in the natural gas business even encouraged the war on coal, as it benefitted them. When I first heard that then-Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McLendon gave the Sierra Club $25 million to fight coal (it is reported that the Sierra Club turned down an additional $30 million), I remember yelling at the TV. “You fool!” I shouted. “You will be next!”

Within months, the Sierra Club launched its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign that claims: “Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy and harms human health and the environment in places where production occurs.” A headline on the Beyond Natural Gas webpage states that natural gas is: “Dirty, dangerous, and run amok.” Shortly thereafter, McLendon “agreed to retire.”

The oil industry didn’t make much noise about the Sierra Club campaign—after all natural gas prices were low and oil, high. While environmental groups generally oppose all fossil fuels, the oil industry has been hurt the least. Jobs in the oil sector of the energy industry have continued as the lone bright spot in the economy and increased U.S. production has cut our reliance on Middle Eastern crude to the lowest levels in three decades. Even as recently as November 5, President Obama bragged about decreased dependence on imported oil.

While the Obama administration hasn’t been vocally anti-oil, it has not made development easy. The permitting process for a new well on federal lands takes twice as long as it did previously. Environmental groups, with whom Obama is philosophically aligned, have continued to push for tighter regulations on hydraulic fracturing—even an outright ban (which would virtually shut down America’s new energy abundance). The Democrat-controlled New York state has already acquiesced to environmentalists’ demands.

Now, they are coming for oil-and-gas development and manufacturing through the just-announced 626-page ozone regulation, which will require states to dramatically reduce ozone emissions from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 65 to 70ppb—though environmental groups want a 60ppb standard which may be the final rule. While a 5-15ppb reduction doesn’t sound like much, it is important to realize that many areas of the U.S. are already out of compliance—including most of California—with the 75ppb level. The new regulations will mean that, depending on the final rule, 76-96 percent of the country—including some national parks where the natural background levels are 65-67ppb—will be out of compliance.

According to Howard Feldman, the American Petroleum Institute’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs, “earlier EPA analyses acknowledge the technology needed to achieve more stringent standards doesn’t exist.” Likewise, a NAM report, titled “Potential Economic Impacts of a Stricter Ozone Standard,” states that a majority of new reductions would have to come from “unknown controls.”

Ozone is an odorless gas that is not directly emitted into the air but is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC)—which occur naturally but are also produced from the burning of fossil fuels and are released in the process of drilling for oil and natural gas. For example, even before the new proposed levels were announced, Colorado’s Front Range region is out of compliance with the current rules, “driven largely by emissions from fossil fuel processing.” A report in the Colorado Independent states: “The increase in ozone violations is primarily due to emissions from oil and gas drilling.” Electric utilities and chemical solvents are also sources of NOx and VOC.

“To meet the new standards,” the National Journal says: “states will have to form plans that will limit emissions of ozone-forming pollutants from two major sources: stationary sources such as power plants and factories, and transportation”—which will reduce energy intensive economic activity. The NYT reports: “The ozone rules are expected to force the owners of power plants and factories to install expensive technology to clean pollutants from their smoke stacks”—which will raise costs to families and business. Under the current rule, ozone levels, according to the EPA, have fallen in the U.S. 33 percent since 1980 and 18 percent since 2000.

The American Legislative Exchange Council explains the impact of the new ozone proposal this way: “Virtually every state’s ability to develop industry would be seriously jeopardized because emissions from each new stationary source would have to be ‘offset’ with emissions reductions elsewhere in the nonattainment area. In practice, this means that industrial development becomes a zero-sum game, whereby every new business requires the closure of existing business.”

No wonder NAM’s response is antagonistic: “Manufacturing in the United States is making a comeback,” Jay Timmons, CEO and President, said in a press release. “We’re reducing emissions at the same time, but tightening the current ozone standard to near unachievable levels would serve as a self-inflicted wound to the U.S. economy at the worst possible time. This rule would undermine our work to expand manufacturing in the United States, making it almost impossible to increase operations, create new jobs or keep pace internationally.”

Despite the negative economic impact of the expensive rule—with figures ranging from $19 billion to $270 billion—environmental groups believe Obama will follow through this time because, as National Journal states: “the rule fits with the rest of Obama’s climate change agenda and they’d expect it to move forward even on the tighter end.” The Sierra Club’s Washington representative on smog pollution, Terry McGuire, believes: “The administration is emboldened to do that.”

While environmental groups and the Obama administration maybe feel “emboldened,” more regulation—especially that which “would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments”—is not what the American people want or need.

“The president said his policies were on the ballot, and the American people spoke up against them,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “It’s time for more listening, and less job-destroying red tape. Easing the burden already created by EPA regulations will continue to be a priority for me in the new Congress.”

“Republicans,” according to National Journal, “have vowed to target the ozone standard as a part of their early energy agenda.”

Current Minority Leader of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Vitter (R-LA) and incoming Chairman, Senator Inhofe (R-OK) called the rule: “one of the most devastating regulations in a series of over-reaching regulatory actions.” In response to the November 26 announcement, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy promised: “The House will conduct aggressive oversight and use the proper legislative approach to continue to promote cleaning the air we breathe while ensuring our communities are not burdened with unrealistic regulations.”

With the Obama administration willing to sacrifice jobs and economic development for some perceived environmental legacy, it is time for unions to abandon the historic allegiance to the Democrat Party and realize that it is the Republicans who advocate for policies that protect the jobs in construction, manufacturing, mining, and energy—all well-paying positions that are often filled by union members.

It is time for capitalist, free-marketers to speak out.

It is time for trade unionists to speak out.

It is time for families, workers, and businesses to speak out.

It is time for the all of the energy producers—coal, natural gas, and oil—to speak out with one voice.

Because, if we don’t, there will be no one left to speak for us.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Sessions: Republicans on verge of breaking campaign pledges

From: National Review

That’s on amnesty, as we might suspect, given the house and senate leadership which is, and is to be.  It is sad when the only clue you or we might have on our congress’s  ability to keep a promise is mostly null and void.  Other reports have the dems and progressives laughing their ample tails off over the potential of Republicans not keeping their word.

Here’s what Session’s has to say:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) suggested that House Republicans are on the verge of breaking their campaign promise to fight President Obama’s administrative amnesty, judging by the legislative text currently being circulated.

Sessions said that the proposed language “fails to meet [the] test” established by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who promised earlier this year that the GOP would do everything possible to thwart Obama’s executive orders.

“The executive amnesty language is substantially weaker than the language the House adopted this summer, and does not reject the central tenets of the President’s plan: work permits, Social Security and Medicare to 5 million illegal immigrants — reducing wages, jobs and benefits for Americans,” Sessions said in the statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the results of a House Republican conference meeting today.

In the meeting, “the lawmakers began coalescing around a two-part plan that would allow a symbolic vote to show their frustration with President Obama’s executive action on immigration, before funding the government ahead of a Dec. 11 deadline,” according to the New York Times.

Click here to finish the story.

 

Who does; boycott Wal-Mart?

From:  National Review Online

 

Who does boycott Wal-Mart … Really?  It may be, in small numbers, people duped by the educated that will never set foot in a Wal-Mart or similar retail establishment.  If you buy the unions’ tales and the professionally produced picket signs of others aligned with them, it is the poor and downtrodden, forced as slaves might be, to work their fingers to the bone with no hope of reasonable salaries or “upward-mobility.”

The truth is far from the stories told by those who favor closing Wal-Marts over seeing the middle-class and the poor have the opportunity to purchase food, clothing and other needs at prices they can afford.

We invite you to read the following and then chase the posted the link for the rest of the story:

Who Boycotts Wal-Mart?
Social-justice warriors who are too enlightened to let their poor neighbors pay lower prices.

(Gilles Mingasson/Getty)
Kevin D. Williamson

Columbia County, Ark. — There’s no sign of it here in Magnolia, Ark., but the boycott season is upon us, and graduates of Princeton and Bryn Mawr are demanding “justice” from Wal-Mart, which is not in the justice business but in the groceries, clothes, and car-batteries business. It is easy to scoff, but I am ready to start taking the social-justice warriors’ insipid rhetoric seriously — as soon as two things happen: First, I want to hear from the Wal-Mart-protesting riffraff a definition of “justice” that is something that does not boil down to “I Get What I Want, Irrespective of Other Concerns.”

Second, I want to turn on the radio and hear Jay-Z boasting about his new Timex.

It is remarkable that Wal-Mart, a company that makes a modest profit margin (typically between 3 percent and 3.5 percent) selling ordinary people ordinary goods at low prices, is the great hate totem for the well-heeled Left, whose best-known celebrity spokesclowns would not be caught so much as downwind from a Supercenter, while at the same time, nobody is out with placards and illiterate slogans and generally risible moral posturing in front of boutiques dealing in Rolex, Prada, Hermès, et al. It’s almost as if there is a motive at work here other than that which is stated by our big-box-bashing friends on the left and their A-list human bullhorns.

 

Dear Northeast: How’s that solar working out for you

A reminder from Marita to silly folks on why electricity needs real power plants

Marita Noon

For immediate release: November 24, 2014.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 2189

Dear Northeast, How’s that solar working out for ya?

A couple of months ago, effective in November, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit.

It’s dramatic headlines like these that make rooftop solar sound so attractive to people wanting to save money. In fact, embedded within the online version of the Boston Globe story: “Electric rates in Mass. set to spike this winter,” is a link to another article: “How to install solar power and save.” The solar story points out: “By now everyone knows that solar power can save homeowners big money on utility bills.” It claims that solar works even in New England’s dreary winters and cites Henry K. Vandermark, founder and president of Solar Wave Energy in Cambridge, as saying: “Even snow doesn’t matter if your panels have a steep angle. It just slides right off them.”

Solar is not the panacea it is promoted to be, though it is true that—after a substantial investment, heavy government subsidies (funded by all taxpayers), and generous net-metering programs (that raise costs for non-solar customers)—solar systems can save money on the typical homeowners’ monthly bill. (An unsubsidized system averages about $24,000.)

New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year—Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts went “dark” on June 1, in part due to tightening federal regulations. Another major closure will take place within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

A new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant on 18 acres of the 65-acre Salem site will replace the Salem Harbor plant. The remaining 47 acres will see redevelopment, including renewable energy. But, that plan has received pushback from environmental groups that want it fully replaced with renewables. The Boston Globe states: “A decade ago, replacing the aging plant with a far cleaner natural gas facility would have thrilled environmental and public health advocates.” The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the project’s approval, claiming the state “failed to adequately consider its own climate change law when state energy officials approved the Salem plant.” In February, the group settled the suit after it caused construction delays and reliability concerns.

Just days before the plant closed, a report from The Daily Climate addressed the controversy over usage of the Salem Harbor site: “Many activists pushed back, arguing for wind or solar generation or non-energy uses, such as a marine biotechnology research facility.” One activist group: HealthLink, “has marshaled opposition to running a gas line to the new plant” and another: Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant (GAASP), “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.”

The state of Massachusetts has offered three closed, or scheduled to be closed, coal-fueled power plant sites $6 million to pursue renewable energy projects—even though wind and solar require full back up from fossil fuel power plants so electricity is available in the frigid Northeast winters. Additionally, a new report from two Stanford Ph.Ds., who spent 4 years trying to prove renewables can, ultimately, replace fossil fuels, have had to admit defeat: “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”

Having lived with the 63-year old Salem Harbor plant in her back yard for 20 years, Linda Haley, doesn’t, according to WGBH News, “understand why Salem would encourage use of a non-renewable fossil-fuel resource like natural gas when alternative investments in green technology finally seem possible.”

These stories reveal the snow job that has been perpetuated on the general public regarding renewable energy. They don’t understand the need for power or how it works. They seem to believe that when a rule passes a magic wand waves replacing older, but still fully functional, power plants with wind or solar—that doesn’t produce electricity 24/7/365 as do the decommissioned coal or nuclear plants and which requires far more land to produce the same amount of, albeit intermittent, electricity.

An iced up wind turbine or a solar panel covered in seven feet of snow—even if some of it slides off—doesn’t generate electricity. And the cold days of a Northeast winter create one of the times when energy demand peaks.

Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the Northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply?

Congress, following the near crisis, brought in utility executives to explain the situation. Regarding the nation’s electrical output last winter, Nicholas Akins, the CEO of the biggest generator of coal-fueled electricity in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP), told Congress: “This country did not just dodge a bullet—we dodged a cannon ball.” Similarly, Michael Kormos, Executive VP of Operations for PJM Interconnection (the largest grid operator in the U.S. overseeing 13 states), commented on operations during the polar vortex: PJM was “never—as some accounts have portrayed—700 megawatts away from rolling blackouts. … On the worst day, January 7, our next step if we had lost a very large generator would have been to implement a small voltage reduction”—industry speak for the last option before power outages.

About last winter’s grid reliability, Glenn Beck claims: “I had an energy guy come to me about three weeks ago. …He said, ‘We were one power plant away from a blackout in the east all winter long… We were using so much electricity. We were at the top of the grid. There’s no more electricity. We’re at the top.’”

This winter’s extreme weather—with new records set for November power demand—has already arrived. Come January, there will be not one, but two fewer Northeast power plants since last year—not because they had to be retired, but because of EPA regulations and public sentiment. In a November 17 op-ed, former Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Judd (R-NH) said: “Vermont Yankee produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather.” The Northeast won’t have Vermont Yankee’s power this January.

Without these two vital power plants, what will the Northeast do?

For several months, since I had a chat with Weather Bell Analytics’ Joe Bastardi at the International Conference on Climate Change, I’ve continued to say that I fear people will have to die due to power outages that prevent them from heating their homes in the winter cold, before the public wakes up to the damage of these policies. AEP’s Atkins seems to agree. He told Columbus Business First: “Truth be known, something’s probably going to have to happen before people realize that there is an issue.”

“New England is in the midst of an energy crisis,” claims WGBH News. The report continues: “residents and businesses are facing a future that may include ‘rolling blackouts’ on days when usage is highest.”

ISO New England, the agency that oversees the power grid, warns, in the Boston Globe: “Boston and northeast Massachusetts are ‘expected to face an electricity capacity shortage’ that could lead to rolling blackouts or the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators—which emit far more pollutants than natural gas—to fill the gap.” Ray Hepper, the lawyer for ISO New England, in a court filing, wrote: “The ISO simply cannot make megawatts of generation materialize that are not on the system.” In an interview, he added: “We’re really, as a region, at the point of needing new power plants.”

As the Salem Harbor story illustrates, natural gas will likely fuel those new power plants and environmental groups are expected to challenge construction. Plus, natural gas faces cost volatility. On November 20, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in the wake of November cold, not experienced since the 1970s when global cooling was predicted, featured an article titled: “Chill pushes up natural-gas prices” that stated: “Natural-gas stockpiles shrank by more than expected last week reflecting surging demand.” As in the ’70s, many are now projecting, based on solar activity and other natural variables, a long global cooling trend.

While the Boston Globe, in September, said: “The upcoming winter is not expected to be as cold as last season,” Bastardi told me otherwise. He said: “This winter could be as cold and nasty as last year and in a worst case go beyond that to some of the great winters of the late 1970s, lasting all the way into April. As it is, we still have a winter comparable to last year forecasted, though the position of the worst, relative to averages, may be further southeast than last year.” During a November 19 appearance with Neil Cavuto, Bastardi suggested that we may see a bit of warming after November, but will have one, or two, very cold months after that.

The WSJ quoted Brian Bradshaw, portfolio manager at BP Capital in Dallas: “‘Everyone thinks it’s not possible’ to have another winter like last year ‘But the weather does impossible things all the time.’” WSJ added: “the natural-gas market is setting up for a repeat of last winter.”

So, why, when natural gas prices sit at historic lows that experts predicted will lower electricity rates, is the Northeast facing double-digit increases? The answer: there is no magic wand. The changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet. Ray Gifford, former commissioner with the Colorado Public Utility Commission, told me: “I don’t see how the gas infrastructure in New England can be built fast enough to replace retiring baseload capacity.”

Within the past decade, natural gas went from supplying less than a fifth of New England’s power to one half—which could be great if New England had natural gas, but it is, as Tim Maverick, Commodities Correspondent for Wall Street Daily, says: “gas-starved.” After last winter’s freezing weather, Maverick wrote: “The Northeast was slapped in the face with the reality that there’s not sufficient pipeline infrastructure to provide it with the mega-energy pull it draws in the colder season. This is probably because not one new pipeline infrastructure has been introduced in over 40 years. Natural gas consumption in the Northeast has grown more than 20% in the last decade, and not one new pipeline has been built. Current pipelines are stuffed and can carry no more supply.”

At the Edison Electric Institute financial conference on November 11, AEP’s Atkins confirmed that the proposed timeline to cut pollution from the EPA will shutter coal plants before completion of construction of new power plants using other fuels, or the infrastructure to move the needed natural gas around.

The lack of available supply, results in higher prices. The Boston Globe explains: “gas supplies for home heating are purchased under long-term contracts arranged far in advance, so utilities have the advantage of locking in lower rates. Power plants, on the other hand, often buy shorter-term and are more exposed to price movements in the spot markets.” In the winter’s cold weather, the gas goes to people’s homes first. Different from coal, which is shipped by train, with a thirty-day supply easily held at the point of use, the switch to natural gas leaves power plants struggling to meet demand, paying higher prices.

Addressing the 2013/2014 winter, Terry Jarrett, a former public service commissioner and a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility, and regulatory issues, said: “Natural gas couldn’t shoulder that burden, due in part to a shortage of infrastructure to deliver gas where it was needed—this despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere. But more importantly, whereas coal’s sole purpose is to generate electricity, natural gas is also used for home heating. And when push comes to shove, heating gets priority over generation.”

Last winter, coal and nuclear met the demand to keep the lights on and heat homes and businesses. AEP reports that 89 percent of its coal plants, now slated for retirement, ran at capacity just to meet the peak demand.

These shortages in the Northeast occur before the implementation of Obama’s Clean Power Plan that experts believe will shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants nationwide by 2016. New pipelines and new plants need to be built, but “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes and environmental activists will probably further delay and prevent construction as they have done in the Northeast, which will result in higher electric bills nationwide.

“Because less-expensive coal generation is retiring and in part is being replaced by demand-response or other potential high energy cost resources, excess generation will narrow and energy prices could become more volatile due to the increasing reliance on natural gas for electricity generation,” PJM’s Kormos told Congress.

The lessons for America’s energy supply learned from the Northeast’s far-reaching experiment, that has only resulted only in price increases and potential energy shortages, are twofold. First, don’t shut down existing supply until the replacement is ready, as legal action and local attitudes can slow its development. Second, you can cover every square inch of available land with wind and solar, but when extreme weather hits, it requires a reliable energy supply, best met by coal and nuclear.

Current policy direction will have all of America, not just the Northeast, freezing in the dark. I hope it can it be turned back before it is too late.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Conspiracy Brews 11.22.14

If you like your coffee and your politics flavorful, served with a heaping dose of civility by a diverse group of interesting people from all parts of the political spectrum then you should be joining us every Saturday. Started in 2007 over coffee and lively conversation by a group of concerned friends and neighbors, ‘Conspiracy Brews’ is committed to finding solutions to some of our State’s toughest problems. Our zest for constructive political discourse is only equaled by our belief that the only way forward is to exchange our views in a relaxed and friendly setting. For additional information or to be added to our e-mail list contact: ConspiracyBrews@aol.com.

Conspiracy Brews

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

Benjamin Franklin

Not your average political discussion group!

November 22, 2014

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
at
Southwest Secondary Learning Center
10301 Candelaria Rd NE
(northwest corner of Candelaria and Morris)

We think that government should be open and honest at all times.
People from all political parties are welcome.

*** Quotes of the Week ***

“Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.”

Thomas H. Huxley

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

Thomas Jefferson

Suggested Topics

– The US keeps dropping in freedom ratings…why?

– So what is the latest good news for our area?

– Government lies no longer matter to most. Integrity is irrelevant. Ex. Bernco Treasurer Ortiz and APD where a Lt provides information in his official email for classes at a company where his wife works with military lessons on how to effect a good kill. Where are we heading?

(Light Quotes of the week)

“When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room.”

Woody Allen

“Parents were invented to make children happy by giving them something to ignore.”

Ogden Nash

“Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man.”

Leon Trotsky

——-

Conspiracy Brews 9.6.14

 

 

If you like your coffee and your politics flavorful, served with a heaping dose of civility by a diverse group of interesting people from all parts of the political spectrum then you should be joining us every Saturday. Started in 2007 over coffee and lively conversation by a group of concerned friends and neighbors, ‘Conspiracy Brews’ is committed to finding solutions to some of our State’s toughest problems. Our zest for constructive political discourse is only equaled by our belief that the only way forward is to exchange our views in a relaxed and friendly setting. For additional information or to be added to our e-mail list contact: ConspiracyBrews@aol.com.

 

Conspiracy Brews

 

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

 

 

Benjamin Franklin

 

US Postage stamp: Benjamin Franklin, 1861 Issu...

US Postage stamp: Benjamin Franklin, 1861 Issue, ‘one cent’, blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Not your average political discussion group!

 

September 06, 2014

 

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
at
Southwest Secondary Learning Center
10301 Candelaria Rd NE
(northwest corner of Candelaria and Morris)

 

We think that government should be open and honest at all times.
People from all political parties are welcome.

 

*** Quotes of the Week ***

 

“Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick (sic) Liberty; without Freedom of Speech.”

 

Benjamin Franklin

 

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.”

 

Samuel Adams

 

English: "Mr. Samuel Adams," by Paul...

English: “Mr. Samuel Adams,” by Paul Revere, 1774. 5 1/4 in. x 4 5/16 in. Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection. Courtesy of Yale University, New Haven, Conn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Suggested Topics

 

– Shall we discuss the upcoming elections?

 

–We’ve talked about the APS School Board…is it time to act for the upcoming election?

 

– Tesla is laid to rest…what can we realistically do to attract industries?

 

(Light Quotes of the week)

 

“I have a rock garden. Last week three of them died.”

 

Richard Diran

 

My shot of Diran

My shot of Diran (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“Bad spellers of the world, untie!”

 

Graffito

 

Votate gli stessi.

Votate gli stessi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

“Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.”

 

Robert Orben