Electric Utilities Should Call the Bluff of Green Radicals

CascadeNewLogoBy John A. Charles, Jr.

Two committees of the Oregon Legislature will hear presentations this week on a legislative proposal to eliminate the use of coal in Oregon’s electricity grid by 2035. Coal is the source of power for 33.4% of Oregon’s electricity consumption.

According to news reports, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp have agreed to this proposal in order to head off a possible ballot measure that would impose even more onerous requirements if passed in November of this year.

The biggest problem with the proposal is that the two renewable technologies most preferred by radical environmental groups – solar and wind – are intermittent sources that randomly fail to provide any electricity to the grid. During the winter months when utilities must provide the highest levels of reliable power – the so-called “peak periods” – wind and solar combined supply only about 5% of the necessary electricity.

This means that ratepayers will be forced to spend billions subsidizing uneconomic renewable power facilities, and then pay a second time for gas-fired generators that will be necessary to back up the unreliable wind and solar plants.

Utility lobbyists should be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to this deal, and legislators should soundly reject it in the February legislative session. Instead, they should call the bluff of the radical greens and let them put their measures on the ballot. Few Oregonians would willingly support a “freeze in the dark” policy if given a chance to vote.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Energy, Environment | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    The Oregonian covered a lot of bases on Oregon’s mucked up energy policies yesterday. “Benefits of Proposed energy overhaul
    questioned,” The Oregonian, pages A8-A9, January 17, 2016. Governor Brown may have gagged the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) on this deal. The Chair of this rate regulatory body says in essence she can’t speak about this deal because, “the Governor can fire us [commissioners] at anytime.” The OPUC says it wasn’t a party to this deal, and suspects it will raise rates and shift risks to rate payers. Commissioner Savage who most often supports renewable energy is quoted as saying this deal has no carbon benefit, and will drive up rates for no good reason.

    Meanwhile over on pages D1 and D3 of this same Oregonian issue is reporting on the Oregon Department of Energy, which is being investigated/audited for what amounts to malfeasance for handing out state energy tax credits too liberally, maybe even fraudulently. Nearly, $1 billion dollars in these credits have been handed out, much of it with little or no documentation it appears.

    On page D6 of this same issue is reporting on one of the coal power generating plants Oregon buys power from currently. The fuel cost is incredibly low at only about one half penny per KWH, as opposed to the average cost of wholesale energy for PGE between 6 and 7 cents per KWH (O&M brings the coal plant power up to maybe 3 cents per KWH, but the plant is already paid for by ratepayers not requiring new capital investment utilities make hefty returns on from ratepayers).

    There has to be a much more reasonable balancing of perceived environmental benefit and lowest available power rates than this deal. Moreover, the dismal failure of the state’s business energy tax credit program really speaks volumes of the fallacy of most government solutions, which is the government is corruptible, not as benevolent as many assume, and those executing have a muted self interest in carrying out the government program successfully.

    • DavidAppell

      You still read the Oregonian on PAPER????

      • David Clark

        Its better than your “Sierra Klub Weekly Reader”

        • DavidAppell

          I am not a member of any environmental organizations.

          Or any organizations. Unless you count my credit union.

  • DavidAppell

    Mr Charles: Time for disclosure: how much funding from fossil fuel interests does the CPI receive? Say, in 2015.

    • David Clark

      Right after you disclose how much funding YOU get for blog postings.

      • DavidAppell

        $0 and 0 cents.

        • Jacque Benne’

          Alms to set DA afloat, down the river Styx on a tableau board to seek his pleasures in the eternal theological place of infernal hospice-tality.

  • DavidAppell

    “The biggest problem with the proposal is that the two renewable technologies most preferred by radical environmental groups – solar and wind – are intermittent sources that randomly fail to provide any electricity to the grid. During the winter months when utilities must provide the highest levels of reliable power – the so-called “peak periods” – wind and solar combined supply only about 5% of the necessary electricity.”

    Last year Denmark generated 42% of its power from wind.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/18/denmark-broke-world-record-for-wind-power-in-2015

    • Connie Kosuda

      the wind is gonna stop blowing???? the sun won’t shine ????

      nope.

      • David Clark

        Perhaps you didn’t notice that the sun only shines during the day. Then only if there are no clouds (solar power drops dramatically with even light clouds.)
        Did you happen to notice that some days, there is no wind?

    • David Clark

      You forgot to mention that Denmark has the HIGHEST electric rates in Europe. The other poster child for the watermelons is Germany which has the second highest electricity prices.

      • DavidAppell

        Your data?

        Also, include the damage costs of generating electricity from coal or oil. Both create more damage than value, according to a 2011 study by Yale environmental economist William Nordhaus:

        “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy,” Nicholas Z. Muller, Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus, American Economic Review, 101(5): 1649–75 (2011).

        http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.5.1649

        Summarizing that paper’s findings: for every $1 in value that comes from coal-generated electricity, it creates $2.20 in damages.

        Total damages: $70 billion per year (in 2012 dollars).

        Petroleum-generated electricity is even worse: $5.13 in damages for $1 in value.

        • David Clark

          DavidAppell – Your data?
          ME – Eurostat, Strom Report as reported by http://junkscience.com/2016/01/denmark-sets-world-record-for-wind-energy-production/

          DavidAppell – Also, include the damage costs of generating electricity from coal or oil.
          ME — More watermelon Bull Skat.
          PS: what are the externalities of wind & solar power?

          DavidAppell — Summarizing that paper’s findings: for every $1 in value that comes from coal-generated electricity, it creates $2.20 in damages.
          ME — That’s still cheaper than wind or solar. (Don’t forget to include the cost of tossing out perfectly good, fully paid off power plants and the cost of backup generation for dark, cold and windless evening peak hours.)

          • DavidAppell

            The data are from this 2010 report from the US National Academy of Sciences:

            “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use”
            National Research Council, 2010
            http://books.nap.edu/catalog/12794.html

          • David Clark

            DavidAppell —–The data are from this 2010 report from the US National Academy of Sciences:
            ME — HA! HA! HA! – they ignored the externalities of biofuels and probably many more downsides of watermelon policy):
            “increased food prices caused by the conversion of agricultural land from food to biofuel production, are not considered to represent an external cost,”

            They appear to being promoting the lie that PM2.5 kills:
            “we evaluated effects related to emissions of particulate matter”

            They are guessing!
            “it is important to keep in mind that the individual estimates presented in this report, even when quantifiable, can have large uncertainties.”

            They are most likely using the discredited zero threshold model for guessing”
            “Health damages, which include premature mortality and morbidity (such as chronic bronchitis and asthma), constituted the vast majority of monetized damages, with premature mortality being the single largest health-damage category.

          • DavidAppell

            Yes, the data are from 2010. Extrapolating them to 2015 (as I’ve done), and the damage comes to about $200 B/yr in 2015-dollars.

            Quite a sum. You don’t seem at all concerned about paying it.

          • DavidAppell

            “ME — That’s still cheaper than wind or solar.”

            Where is the data you’re using to make this conclusion?

          • David Clark

            Cost of electricity in Denmark&Germany being 2 1/2 times that of coal. Loss of 5-10(forgot exact #) jobs for every green job. coal electricity costs about 2cents solar/wind is more than 2.2 times that.

          • DavidAppell

            What is the cost when negative exernalities are included?

          • DavidAppell

            “ME — That’s still cheaper than wind or solar.”

            I think you don’t understand this — coal creates MORE damage than value-added.

            That is, every lump of coal that is burned sends the economy backwards.

          • David Clark

            Give us a break from you crap. Coal lifted most of the world out of poverty and it will do the same for the third world if the watermelons don’t succeed in their plan to keep them ion poverty.

          • DavidAppell

            That doesn’t mean YOU or me needs to any longer use coal — we’re right, and can afford clean energy. Stop using the poor as an excuse.

          • David Clark

            We all see that you DO NOT care about the many people who have already died from higher food costs from your climate scam’s biofuel making food prices rise.
            We also not that you don’t care about the many that died from affordable energy in European winters.
            Now go away and peddle your climate scam elsewhere (Unless you can actually prove that man’s CO2 is causing dangerous global warming.)

          • DavidAppell

            Who has died from higher food costs? Specifically. Let’s see your data.

            Who said I’m on favor of using corn for ethanol? That was Bush Jr’s doing. And Iowans like it very very much.

          • David Clark

            Appell—“That was Bush Jr’s doing.”
            ME NO – it was AL Gore who used it as an election issue then later admitted he knew it was bad and did it just to get elected.

          • DavidAppell

            Who died for lack of affordable energies inEurope?

            Are you saying we should heat up the entire planet because the British govt is too cheap to give heating aid to its elders? That’s be like cooling down your entire house just so you could keep the butter unmelted when you leave it on the table. I.e. not very smart.

            Why aren’t elders dying in Canada, which is even colder than British? In the Scandanavian countries? In the interior of the US?

          • David Clark

            Davad Appell —“Are you saying we should heat up the entire planet because…”
            ME — Glad you asked.
            We are still waiting for your proof that man’s CO2 is causing dangerous global warming.

          • DavidAppell

            You’ll have to do much better than to quote from Steve Milloy and junkscience.com. Wise up.

          • David Clark

            DavidAppell – You’ll have to do much better than to quote from Steve Milloy and junkscience.com. Wise up.
            ME — Are you accusing Milloy of lying about the Eurostat data he reported? If so why don’t you prove it, instead of accusing good people of lying.

          • DavidAppell

            I don’t think Steve Milloy can be honest about anything as long as he’s being paid for a particular opinion — on tobacco, or on climate.

          • DavidAppell

            Damage costs from coal and oil consumption to produce electricity: about $200 B/yr in the US:

            “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use”
            National Research Council, 2010
            http://books.nap.edu/catalog/12794.html

  • Connie Kosuda

    please provide a link to the source of your “statistics” / thanks.

    • David Clark

      Try this:
      Total renewals (utility scale): 261/4093 = 6.4%
      Utility solar: 17/4093 = 0.4%
      Other solar: 25/4093 = 0.6%

      from:http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_01

      Of course if we spent a few trillion we could increase that and pay huge electric rates. Are you looking forward to $300/mo electric bills?

      • Connie Kosuda

        David – what’s your beef???? who do you ‘work’ for ?

        your tone is always snotty / you paid by the shills like the Kochs?

        whassup?

  • myke

    Can always burn wood…

  • Green Realist

    New Rule: Every time someone complains about “green radicals” or “environmental whackos” they get to drink some good, Republican, Flint Michigan water.

    • David Clark

      What do you mean Republican – the EPA (headed by Democrat Obama appointee) helped cover it up by keeping his/her mouth shut for months. City is run by Democrats.

      • Green Realist

        I guess you missed the part where the Republican Governor replaced the democratically – elected Mayor and City Council with an administrator.

        It was the appointed administrator who switched the water supply, over the objections of the Mayor and City Council.

  • WorthKnowing

    Appell, likely the biggest liar and deceiver in Oregon misrepresents everything while always trying to disparage skeptics with false accusations and never disclosing who pays him to do so.

    CPI gets no fossil fuel or any other money from interests wanting to propagandize. Appell knows this but lies anyway.

    Denmark isn’t so great.
    1/3 of their power is from coal.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/Denmark/
    Norway is 95% hydro.

    “Denmark’s electricity mix
    Robust connection between Norway’s hydro turbines and West Denmark’s wind turbines holds the key to successful exploitation of wind for Denmark, and the German and Swedish connections are nearly as importantc. The power imported from Sweden (5.2 TWh in 2011, 2.7 TWh in 2010, 3.8 TWh in 2009, 6.6 TWh in 2008, 5.0 TWh in 2007, 1.7 TWh in 2006, 7.6 TWh in 2005) is almost half nuclear and half hydro”

    Oregon is far superior to Denmark.
    http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=OR
    “73% of Oregon’s net electricity generation came from conventional hydroelectric power plants and other renewable energy resources.

    David Appell is a deceiver of the worst kind.

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