Green Energy: All Feeling, No Thought

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

I was stumbling through the internet the other day in search of something pithy to say about Portland’s latest dust up over construction of new apartment houses with required parking for bicycles but not for automobiles when I ran across a website hosted by Jesse Ring and titled The Ring of Truth. I have no idea who Mr. Ring is or what his bona fides might be. His politics are most certainly not liberal. His observations about liberals, while not universally true, do seem to reflect the ineptitude of the left’s fascination with “green” issues:

“During my decades of observing and commenting on political and social issues, I have slowly come to the conclusion that liberals apparently live in a parallel universe where reality is not defined by past history, logic, reason, hard data, common sense, and factual observations but rather by how one feels. Reality to a liberal is determined by their feelings and their dogma. This is why you can’t have a legitimate debate of the issues with liberals; what they feel must be true even though past history and hard data show the contrary.”

With the resurrection of the far left, first under Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and then the election of President Barack Obama, liberals began a determined march to force the use of alternative energy. They knew in their hearts that they were right. They could just feel that the American public was yearning for alternative energy sources and uses. Of course there were no electric vehicles available at prices that would induce consumers to abandon gasoline powered vehicles in favor of electric vehicles – the cost was too high, the performance too low, and the demand was less than zero.

But the liberals held control of the government – the presidency and both branches of Congress. They knew what was best for Americans and they were prepared to spend whatever amounts of someone else’s money to prove they were right. So, as a part of Mr. Obama’s first stimulus program, they used their favorite tool to thwart the competitive market – the tax credit.

The Wall Street Journal nailed the actual effect of “feeling” rather than “thinking” about the issue:

“We thought cash for clunkers was the ultimate waste of taxpayer money, but as usual we were too optimistic. Thanks to the federal tax credit to buy high-mileage cars that was part of President Obama’s stimulus plan, Uncle Sam is now paying Americans to buy that great necessity of modern life, the golf cart.

The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart. Even in states that don’t have their own tax rebate plans, the federal credit is generous enough to pay for half or even two-thirds of the average sticker price of a cart, which is typically in the range of $8,000 to $10,000. “The purchase of some models could be absolutely free,” Roger Gaddis of Ada Electric Cars in Oklahoma said earlier this year. “Is that about the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?”

The golf-cart boom has followed an IRS ruling that golf carts qualify for the electric-car credit as long as they are also road worthy. These qualifying golf carts are essentially the same as normal golf carts save for adding some safety features, such as side and rearview mirrors and three-point seat belts. They typically can go 15 to 25 miles per hour.

I live in a golf course community. The howls of laughter from all of those well-heeled gentlemen (few of whom ever voted for a Democrat in their life) was deafening as they raced for the local dealership to trade in their current cart and receive a brand new cart for nothing. That’s right – the very people who could afford to buy an electric golf cart, who didn’t need the assistance of the federal government to do so and, more than likely, were going to buy one in the next year or two anyway, got a freebie. And not just a freebie, a freebie that did absolutely nothing to improve the environment because our golf course already required the use of electric carts. Four years later as we gather for dinner after a round of golf, the dining room still rings with laughter at those “morons in Washington.” Even a modicum of thought would have predicted this outcome. But when you feel instead of think and then spend someone else’s money on your feelings, this is the type of result you get.

The aftermath of the “feelings” about the need for electric cars has not improved the rationality of liberals’ decision making. The Chevrolet Volt is a mistake on the scale of Ford’s Edsel – the difference being that it was private investors who took a bath on the Edsel while it is the taxpayers that are getting whacked over the Volt. The Volt is basically a $17,000 mediocre Chevrolet Cruz with an electric motor and array of batteries that will permit the driver to go 20 miles on a three hour electric charge. It was originally priced at over $45,000 but a $7500 tax credit was available for its purchase. Even though federal, state and local government agencies lined up to purchase this latest folly, their numbers were insufficient to maintain production. As the Volt grinds to a near halt, Reuters published an article relating to its true costs”

“General Motors Co sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August — but that probably isn’t a good thing for the automaker’s bottom line.

“Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts. GM on Monday issued a statement disputing the estimates.

“Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce.”

And again, the production of electric cars, contrary to popular belief, leaves a carbon footprint in equal to or in excess of their gas-powered counterparts. A Wall Street Journal article by Bjorn Lumborg published last week noted:

“A 2012 comprehensive life-cycle analysis in Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that almost half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially the battery. The mining of lithium, for instance, is a less than green activity. By contrast, the manufacture of a gas-powered car accounts for 17% of its lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.”

The WSJ article goes on to note that although gasoline powered vehicles emit twice the carbon-dioxide as does the power plants producing electricity for electric cars, the significant impact of the battery production for electric cars is roughly equivalent to 80,000 miles in a gasoline powered car. All that effort, all that money, all that waste of tax dollars to produce something that has zero impact on the “greenness” of the planet.

And one final incident in which “feeling” outstripped “thought” is the deployment of solar power panels. A friend of mine lives in a golf course community in Arizona actually the sun actually shines. He decided to install solar panels when the magnitude of “incentives” became irresistible. His solar array cost about $28,000 to install. Arizona Public Service, using taxpayer (ratepayer) money provided a rebate of $14,000. The federal government using taxpayer money, provided an $8500 tax credit. And the State of Arizona added another $1000 of tax credit using taxpayer money. In the end my friend paid about $4500. For that, he increased the value of his home by over $25,000, he has been receiving standby power from APS for less than $25 per month, and the pay back for the $4500 by reducing his monthly power bill is about 4 and one-half years. And he wasn’t the only one in the golf course community to benefit. Literally hundreds of people lined up for a similar benefit all paid for by taxpayers/ratepayers. Virtually all of these people could well afford the system with no rebates or tax credits; not one would because the cost without rebates/tax credits far exceeded the saving that could be achieved by using solar power. Since APS derives a substantial portion of its power from the Palo Verde nuclear facility, the differential in the carbon footprint for installing solar was practically zero. Again, all of these governmental agencies and utility monopolies were spending other people’s money on their great ideas.

I say all of this because it should come as no surprise that dedicated greenies in Portland city government would, of course, green light a project to build housing with bicycle parking but no automobile parking. By doing so they will force all of that automobile parking on to already crowded streets that barely hold a lane of traffic each way. They’ll never get it, but this is why the television series Portlandia was created – to mock the empty-headed drivel that encompasses the far left.