Tag: Energy Policy

Every Election and Every Office Matters: Energy Edition

 

Solar scam corporation commissionEvery election and every office matters. Every American eligible to vote knows this now. We have all been affected by the decisions, the proclamations, of officials from city hall to federal agencies we hardly knew. Pay attention to signs and statements, from local campaign signs to the national party platforms. Consider the case of energy policy, with the examples of California, Arizona, and the Democrats’ national platform. California’s blackouts illuminate the stakes for all of us.

California

California is the largest and most advanced environmental leftist experiment among the fifty “laboratories of democracy.” They have starved their own residents of both water and power, steadfastly blocking new power generation and water storage, while shutting down disfavored power plants like they send millions of gallons of water flowing past parched farmland into the sea. Governor Newsom is entirely unrepentant, along with the Democrat super-majority in the state legislature, avoiding blame for California blackouts.

Counting the Cards in Nevada

 

President Trump is putting Nevada in play for the 2020 election. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project has always been a political hot potato and a hole in the ground into which Congress pours money. Senator Dean Heller, like Senator Reid before him, is opposed to the Yucca Mountain project, and there are likely not the votes to force the issue. Now the story in important Las Vegas news outlets is President Trump is on Nevada’s side.

James B. Meigs joins City Journal senior editor Steven Malanga to discuss the limitations of renewable energy and the need to expand nuclear technology as a source of clean and reliable electricity.

For nearly four decades, environmental activists have opposed nuclear power in favor of “green” energy. But as Meigs writes in the Winter 2019 Issue of City Journal, “nuclear power is finding new pockets of support around the world.”

Loose Cannons and Nuclear Buttons: Dealing with Russia

 

Every time I see “statesmen” foaming at the mouth about insufficient posturing against Russia, I go back to the basics. There are exactly two countries on this planet capable of reducing any country on the face of the earth to toxic, smoldering ruins in hours. These are the United States of America and the Russian Federation (the latest manifestation of the Russian empire).

President Trump has done an admirable job, like most presidents in the Atomic Age, of keeping the natural tensions between the two megadeath powers inside the safety limits. He has succeeded, so far, despite the worst efforts of his domestic enemies, who are more serious about destroying him than they are about national security.

Richard Epstein looks at Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on energy and environmental issues, explaining how free-market economics can be reconciled with good environmental stewardship.

Victor Davis Hanson explains how political and cultural changes in California have eroded the state’s status as a national leader.

Subsidy Upon Subsidies

 

1200px-Indian_Point_Nuclear_Power_PlantConfronted with a grassy bump in a playing field, a normal person would simply level it out to match the rest of the turf. But when government is put in charge — and egged-on by lobbies — the more common solution is bring in truck-load after truck-load of soil to raise the entire field to match the bump. For the latest and most cussedly frustrating example of the phenomenon, Ron Bailey brings us this report on energy subsidies in New York State:

Unable to compete with heavily subsidized wind and solar power or electricity generated using cheap natural gas, the operators of four upstate New York nuclear reactors were planning to shut them down. Closing the plants would be a significant setback for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ambitious plan to reduce the state’s carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector. Currently the state gets 32 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, 19 percent from hydropower, 3 percent from wind, and 0.1 percent from solar. Burning natural gas currently generates about 41 percent of the state’s electricity with the remainder from coal and oil.

In order to forestall these nuclear shut-downs, state regulators decided this week to subsidize nuclear power plants at a rate of $500 million per year. The deal was announced by the state’s Public Service Commission when it adopted a plan to mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity be produced using renewable energy by 2030. Under the new Clean Energy Standards, each nuclear plant will be allocated zero emissions credits, which utilities must purchase when buying power from them. It is estimated that the credits will sell for about $17.48 per megawatt-hour of electricity. That money will go to the bottom lines of the plant’s owners, Entergy and Exelon. Now everybody’s a subsidized rent-seeker.

Clinton’s Solar Panel Plan Leaves America in the Dark

 

hillary solar panel

On Hillary Clinton’s campaign website, she calls for the creation of 500 million new solar panels to “power every home in America.” Voicing a strong preference for solar may win over the hearts of some environmentally conscious voters, but it should not win over their minds. A proposal to comprehensively retool the nation’s energy systems to solar power ignores a couple of very basic, yet critically important, complications.

First, every home in America is already powered. The country does not need to undergo a massive, redundant, and expensive overhaul to duplicate what has already been accomplished. Second and more importantly, this plan, if you can call it that, hinges on a physical impossibility. Solar panels cannot power homes. At least not in any way people in the industrialized world would consider acceptable. Solar power is unreliable, intermittent, and inflexible. This means solar panels are intrinsically incapable of handling the country’s home energy needs.

Solar Revolution? Don’t Hold Your Breath.

 

Ivanpah_aerial_shotThe $2.2B Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is in the news and in danger of closure for underperforming on its contracted power production. If you are a Ricochet reader, you are probably not surprised, but early results from Ivanpah and two other large scale solar power installations — the Desert Sunlight and Topaz plants, which are also located in Southern California — do not bode well for the future of solar as a replacement for fossil fuels or nuclear power. (Ivanpah’s predilection to burn up birds has been covered on Ricochet previously so I’ll skip it).

Solar has offered the promise of nearly limitless carbon-free energy for nearly 40 years, with a few caveats. First, solar power is expensive but prices per kilowatt are falling rapidly and approaching that of traditional plants. Second, size matters, which means that solar will need to be scaled-up from boutique rooftop installations to larger plants that can produce power at a cost on par with other forms of power generation. This is all done, of course, with the advantages offered by federal loan guarantees specifically designed to prove-out the scalability of these concepts so that the private sector can take over.

In the words of Peter Davidson, solar panels “… existed before as a technology, but that technology hadn’t been deployed at a large scale. Once we’ve done that, the government steps aside let the private markets take over.” However, results from these demonstrator plants appear to show that they are not cheaper than even nuclear plants — which are very expensive — even when scaled-up to large size. The line of companies waiting to take over without federal loan guarantees will be a short one.