Chu claims wind, solar competitive by 2019

As reported by Bloomberg:

Wind and solar power may compete with fossil fuels, without aid from government subsidies, within the next decade, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “It’s not going to be three decades,” Chu said today at an event in Washington sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust… China and other nations are promoting policies to support cleaner energy. “This is a race,” he said.

If “clean energy” is a race, it is one to the bottom — and we should let the Chinese “win” that one.

Ratepayer tax for ‘clean energy’ R&D?

David Garman, a former Bush Energy Department politico-cum-lobbyist, met with Obama Department of Energy staff to recommend that ratepayers be charged a tax to fund clean energy research and development. The meeting is summarized in this memo.

Garman told the Clean Energy Report that,

“… a charge could be designed in a variety of ways — for example, it could be based on a percentage of the electricity bill attributed to coal generation. With a charge of 50 cents a month on the average electricity bill, a fund of $2 billion a year could be accumulated and, with so many ratepayers, would have negligible individual impacts, although for large industrial energy users it ‘would be a big deal’ and raise competitiveness issues. Nevertheless, some way to augment appropriated funds needs to be found, Garman says, otherwise CCS projects ‘won’t get done.'”

Garman, if you haven’t already figured this out, is a lobbyist for CCS and climate change legislation. You can search the Senate Lobbying Disclosure database for yourself.

Garman also lobbies for the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) — a Washington D.C. racket founded by Senate fossils who steered the country to its present disastrous course. Garman’s memo indicates that he wants the Obama DOE to consider financial support for the BPC:

The [DOE] should consider if there is a role for a group such as the Bipartisan Policy Center which has an impressive track record in advancing the public debate on issues such as energy, health care, transportation policy, and perhaps most notably, addressing our national debt and budget deficits.”

BTW, shame on the Clean Energy Report for not reporting about Garman and his angle.

Granholm’s plan to screw consumers and taxpayers

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Sen. John Warner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be hitting the road soon to drum up support for a “clean energy standard” (CES).

But as evidenced in an interview Granholm recently gave to E&E TV, her plan would mean consumer pain for rentseeker gain.

The four legs of Granholm’s energy strategy are:

  • Electric vehicles (EVs);
  • Increased utilization of combined heat and power installations;
  • a CES; and
  • More taxpayer money for “clean energy” R&D.

But given that EVs cost more than conventional vehicles — without providing offsetting consumer, public health or environmental benefits — and that a CES will make the electricity needed by EVs more expensive, it’s hard to see how this policy will benefit anyone but the CES rentseekers.

No, we don’t buy Granholm’s assertion that EVs will make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil.

First, while consumers do get grouchy when the price of gasoline goes up, they don’t get (or at least haven’t so far gotten) so grouchy that they are willing to torture themselves in more expensive and less convenient EVs. Like solar and wind, EVs can only be sold if they are heavily subsidized. (For more on this point, check out Margo Thorning’s “Pull the Plug on Electric Car Subsidies” in today’s Wall Street Journal).

Next, even if the pie-in-the-sky EV fantasy of sales of one million vehicles happened tomorrow, they would still constitute a mere 0.5 percent of total U.S. vehicles — so we’d still be importing plenty of oil from abroad.

Finally, we don’t believe Granholm, who just joined the Pew Charitable Trusts (parent to the Pew Center on Climate Change), is genuinely interested in low gas prices or reduced oil imports. She’s simply lobbying for the “clean energy” rentseekers — and against the rest of us.

Clean energy’s junk economics

The Center for American Progress offers its latest argument for a “clean energy standard.” The takedown is at

Bingaman-Murkowski white paper on CES

Click here for a new white paper on a CES by Sens. Jeff Bingamn (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Modular nuclear in CES?

Small modular reactor development will be included in CES legislation being prepared by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), according to the Clean Energy Report. The legislation won’t be introduced until the completion of a review of the U.S. nuclear fleet ordered by President Obama on March 17.

Renewable back-up costs are controversial

It will cost between $2-$15 billion over the next 15 years to construct the gas pipeline infrastructure needed to provide back-up generation for intermittent renewables (i.e., solar and wind), according to a report from the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA). The utilization rate for the back-up generation is estimated to be around 15 percent or less.

According to Restructuring Today, “The report assumes 105 GW of renewables will be built in the next 15 years and 88 GW of that will be wind. The main driver for that growth is state standards… If all of that were backed by gas plants, 33 GW would be needed including 21 GW that have yet to be built… The study looked at energy storage such as pumped hydro and flywheels and found those technologies are more costly than balancing with gas, at least for now. It did not examine DR for smoothing intermittency.”

The wind industry countered that, “The power system always has had large amounts of variability and uncertainty due to large swings in demand and traditional power plants tripping off and removing 1,000 MW or more of supply instantaneously… Combining all those sources of variability together statistically has the effect of making smaller ones such as wind intermittency statistically negligible,” reported RT.