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.

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Clean energy’s junk economics

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


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.


Nuke industry: No CES without us

While wind and solar rentseekers may view the Fukushima Daiichi disaster as a eliminating the pesky nuclear issue from the clean energy standard debate, as the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) indicated this week, the disaster only muddies the possibility of CES legislation. As reported in the Clean Energy Report:

Alex Flint, NEI’s head of regulatory affairs, said on a March 17 conference call that industry is trying to keep policymakers abreast of events with the best information available. NEI has been compiling reports from the crisis zone and conducting round-the-clock briefings for hundreds of congressional staff and 50 individual members of Congress on the Fukushima disaster, including staff for Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Environment & Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and nuclear safety subcommittee chairman Tom Carper (D-DE).

Flint expects the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe, once it plays out, to “complicate already complicated energy legislation.” He said the timing and prospects for developing energy legislation are already “hard enough to deduce.”

The translation here is that omitting nukes from a CES will just create another enemy of such legislation.

And if that’s not clear enough to CES rentseekers, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)…

… who chairs a key air and nuclear safety subcommittee, will use upcoming hearings on the Japan nuclear crisis to examine the safety and environmental issues related to all low-carbon energy production, including wind, solar and nuclear power.

No doubt Carper’s hearings will point out that wind and solar kill more people and wildlife, and have more adverse environmental impacts that nuclear power.


Obama CES may exclude energy efficiency

Energy efficiency may be excluded from the Obama administration’s plan for a clean energy standard (CES).

Testifying before a Senate Committee yesterday, the deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at DOE, Kathleen Hogan said,

“Certainly the administration is supportive of renewable energy in the clean energy standard and is supportive of energy efficiency… I think it’s a question as to does efficiency belong in the clean energy standard or as a set of complementary measures that we believe will deliver the savings that they’re to be achieved.”

No doubt these comments will make the rentseekers at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) very nervous. As ACEEE executive director Steve Nadel avowed in February,

Not all CES proposals include energy efficiency; therefore, we will work hard to make sure America’s cheapest clean energy resource is included.