McDonnell’s Energy Pep Rally

By Peter Galuszka

One conceit of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is that he magically wants to transform Virginia into “The Energy Capital of the East Coast.” The idea smacks of Alice in Wonderland.

An example is “The Governor’s Conference on Energy,” that began in Richmond on  Monday. I dropped by today and noted that the conference logo has a map with the state colored red as the aforementioned energy capital. There were the usual fossil fuels — coal, petroleum and natural gas — represented in exhibits along with a fair showing of nuclear power. Scattered here and there were cogeneration and wind turbine possibilities.

A keynote speaker was by Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor and head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. During her tenure, she helped emasculate the agency. She now advocates nuclear power. Despite the Fukushima disaster and the fact that Dominion’s North Anna nuclear plant remains shut down after a 5.8-scale earthquake on Aug. 23, Whitman beat the drum for more nuclear plants.

Coal companies also had a big role, likely because Dominion and American Electric Power, the state’s two largest utilities, have a large coal-fired capacity. And McDonnell is still pushing for oil drilling off the state’s coast despite the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the lack of evidence of any significant deposits.

The favored mix did not sit well with the few environmentalists at the conference. “It’s nuclear, nuclear, coal, coal, gas,” Glen Besa, an official with the Sierra Club told me. In fact, the Sierra Club intends to give a counter
speech favoring non fossil and alternative energy as McDonnell gives his
keynote address Tuesday evening.

There’s more odd about the conference. The “Energy Capital” moniker is a bit of a stretch for one thing. Take coa. The coalfields in far Southwestern
Virginia produce between 30 to 40 million tons a year. Next door, West Virginia produces 144 million tons and Kentucky 96 million tons a year. Total U.S. production is about 1 billion tons, so Virginia’s 40 million tons is rather puny.

Ditto oil. There’s isn’t much in Virginia although there are natural gas wells. Nuclear? In the state are four reactors, two of which are shut down due to the earthquake.

Yet there’s lots of interest in wind, especially offshore where Google plans a big farm and on the Eastern Shore where a turbine test facility is planned. Plenty of wind blows in the mountains near the West Virginia border. McDonnell ought to emphasize wind a lot more than he does.

Another curiosity is that the conference entrance fee was $245 ($50 for students). In  other words, the conference was not intended as an informational session for the general public. Rather, it was a pep rally for well-heeled energy executives who might enjoy the governor’s nonsense about Virginia being the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”

25 Responses to McDonnell’s Energy Pep Rally

  1. It does seem a little lost in the ozone. I see no problem with drilling exploratory wells offshore. I doubt there is much oil. However, there might be natural gas – which seems a lot safer to extract and cleaner to burn that oil.

    The coal con in Virginia is absurd. There is just isn’t all that much coal left. And, from what I hear, the coal that is left burns really dirty.

    Uranium? Please ask Gov. McDonnell and the GA to set up a boondoggle to Australia and look at the uranium mining operations there. The mines are in the middle of absolute nowhere and it’s still an environmental and health disaster.

    Nuke? Gotta do it. Sometimes you have to go with the least of several evils.

    Alternative? When? I just don’t see the economics going positive anytime soon. Definitely keep trying but don’t get your hopes up.

  2. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why some supporters of clean energy are just downright against all things fossil-fuel? The transition to a cleaner, smarter alternative energy infrastructure, is clearly on its way for several other reasons, other than just the threat of man-made global warming. But the change is no switch, and it is clearly a progressive transition, which still requires the expansion of fossil fuels.

    It also seems that to me, these same people think that every region in the U.S. is blessed with renewables resources of every type, and therefore each state must developed then now, even if the resource is not very reliable or if the grid is not ready for them.

    Most renewables, such as wind and solar, as we all are aware, are currently intermittent sources of electricity. Consequently, as a stand alone resource, they can be very unattractive in the marketplace, especially if the resource is generated in lower zones of reliability. Today the very best wind zones are being tapped and the issue of intermittenancy may be not be as great, so the need for other resources to “smooth” or “firm” those resources, is less critical. However, not every windfarm generates a reliable output as they do in west Texas or North Dakota.

    Most inland wind resources in areas of less than high quality wind zones, will become more attractive to the market, once other aspects are implement throughout a region’s powergrid. Such aspects are 2-way commuicating T&D equipment to make a smarter grid. With these physical improvements, demand response and load management programs can be signalled to help offset falling demand when the wind falls off or clouds appear. And when energy usage spikes while resources from renewables, DR and LM are insufficient to meet demand, expanded natural gas resources will support the power system. Package together, intermittent electricity can be made reliable and secure in this fashion. Hence, as regulators are striving for, renewable resources outside of their prime zones of reliability will someday be attractive enough in the market, to be self-sustaining.

    I hope the author of this article realizes that for areas with less reliable inland wind resources such as Virginia, these realities exists and the steps in the power grid need to be established before we can truly have a cleaner renewable portfolio of energy in our state. That day will come and the market is currently working along these steps today.

    Another matter I’d like to add, is that state borders are used to define the portfolio of energy resources for a particular area, and this can be misleading and costlier than necessary. Unlike transmission which is moreorless governed by a regional authority, generation is governed by states. In my opinion, ratepayers are better served if regions are defined across state borders to define the mix of resources. Collectively these very same regions share the same gridwork, commerce, transportation, etc., so it makes sense they are collectively defined to find the appropriate % of renewable to fossil + nuclear resources, based on what available in that specific area. This line of thinking saves a state’s utility and its ratepayers the excessive financial burden to develop a renewable resource which it is less blessed with or to import it from a location farther away which is just as expensive. If transmission by regional authority makes sense, and it does to me, then I don’t see why generation cannot be govern in the similar fashion.

  3. I would also like to add that the idea that Virginia can become an energy hub for the East Coast, this can be very true, as we are the most northern southern (rural) state, and therefore the closest, to serve and support the Northeast i-95 urban corridor.

    Perhaps it was missed by the author (if needed I can scour up the document), but Dominion Power has asked the state of Virginia to secure additional land around their Lake Anna facility, for the future development of 5 additional units, 7 total at Lake Anna. This power along with nuclear resources which will expand in southern Maryland, are needed to anchor the regional’s power grid in the future.

    Secondly, studies have suggested offshore natural gas field can be profittable.

    Thirdly the Hampton Roads are is a hub for coal transportation.

    Fourthly, with the location of the wind turbine testing center in Northamption County, it is likely off the Delmarva shoreline may have a myriad of renewable power resources one day – from wind turbines, to bobbing wave generators, to subsurface geothermal turbines and tidal generators, all sharing the same transmission.

    We must be smart about our energy and our human capabilities however. In a future age of expensive energy, tightening resources, increasing demand, and unfortunately, terrorism, the most diverse portfolio of energy resources we can have, is by far the most reliable, the most secure, resilient, and not to mention the most independent for our nation.

  4. Floodguy,
    To bring your comments a little closer to earth:

    (1) Dominion may be buying land around lake anna but there is no way it could afford reactors running $10 billion a piece without federal loan guarantees. With the new skinflint nature of lending and Fukushima, there is little likelihood that will happen soon.

    (2) Hampton Roads has been a coal export port for years. Nothing new there. But you make one very big mistake. The coal is metallurgical coal shipped to foreign steel mills. Some 95 percent of the coal shipped from Norfolk Southern’s Lambert’s Coal is metallurgical coal that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with energy.

    I am afraid your argument about Virginia being some kind of energy center falls flat.
    Peter Galuszka

  5. Whether or not you are aware, environmental laws are so agressive in the northeast, fossil-fuel generators would rather shut down their power plants then make the required modifications to them. This has been happenning now for a good 5 years and will continue. This in turn has put enormous pressure on the grid, which PJM continues resolves via resources imported over HVT from states like Virginia, where energy policymaking isn’t unfriendly to the energy industry. Because of this Virginia is now the 2nd largest importer of electrical power in the nation, #1 east of the Mississippi.

    The financial crisis will not last forever, and when it wanes demand for electricity will commence at a rate not experience previously. With 12-16 years of planning and construction required for new nuclear units, one can understand why plans for expansion are just around the corner. Late 2012 to 2013 is the latest on the date of the NERC permit and loan approval.

    I know you are a proponent for cleaner energy. The following link supports Dominion Power’s preparation thru natural gas expansion while steadily moving away from coal. We already know of it’s smart grid pilot project in C-ville, and the idea of Virginia as the Energy Capital of the East Coast isn’t all that new.

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9PGCAQG0.htm

    http://tdworld.com/business/virginia-green-energy-0410/

    Give it some time, just like the transition needed for a cleaner smarter power grid in states like Virginia, where renewables power generated is currently unmarketable w/ government subsidies.

  6. The article link below supports the notion that Dominion and the state understand the proper steps needed to create a viable power grid, which supplies a mixture of renewable power and fossil, complete with EEC programs and a smarter grid. In regions which have less than higher wind or solar potential, the variabilty of those resources will require sufficient infrastructure for support, or the resource itself is way too expensive and not market-sustaining. Many conservative politicans are starkly opposed to non market-sustaining energy proposals and this I think is reasonable. If we were to be like England or the Netherlands, we would be facing another problem as both nations are approaching. The problem isn’t so much the unreliable power, as it will be the cost. I do believe Virginia is making the proper steps which transforms its power grid. We aren’t windy North Dakota, the sunny southwest; the Chesapeake Bay isn’t the Bay of Fundy. We are Viriginia.

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/07/06/britain-evaluates-capacity-payments-for-back-up-generators-to-wind-power/

  7. well, we avoided the question. Should the govt subsidize energy?

    should the govt subsidize Nukes?

    Why do Conservatives support subsidies for Nukes but not wind or solar?

  8. I think Dominion will still have to pay back the money for nuke. Is it not just a low interested guaranty? Money towards the development of new technologies in the form of grants or subsidies, are legit and okay to me, but only if they are sound.

    As I mentioned in areas where renewables are mariginally reliable, as a stand alone energy resources, they are not-market sustaining and are far too expensive for ratepayers to burden. The gov’t substitities is supposed to lesson that cost, but what is not subsidizes, is the financial cost for the utilities to back-up that power and the corresponding infrastruture for it, in addition to the intermittent renewable power. This is what many in the public do not realize. Check out that link in my last entry. Yes it is a heavily critical piece but it is more accurate than not.

    So, while the grid is not able to optimize intermittent renewables at this time, it doesn’t make the best economic sense to support subsidies just to have a larger RPS for the sake of it, especially in a state like Virginia, before the grid is ready for them. Subsidies where renewable resources are well above marginal in terms of reliability, should be subsidized since at that level of capacity, the need for 1 for 1 redunancy in terms of back up, is not as critical to the grid. In those cases, subsidies help to establish the production industry in our nations as well as help lower the cost due to production of scale. Virginia isn’t North Dakota or Arizona. Mother Nature gives us what she does, so until the grid can be made ready, my argument is not to push costly renewables when capacity is greatly limited our area, until the expansion of the grid can be made to alleviate that problem.

  9. Sorry I forgot to include the principle fact that FERC pushes subsidies for certain resources so our healthy diversification of energy resources are kept in the mix. As mention, the more diverse the energy portfolio, the more secure, reliable and independent the grid is. If FERC believes are % of nuclear energy is light, they will make it more attractive for the market to expand its nuclear fleet. They did it with coal in the 70s and 80s and are doing it with wind and solar today, except wind expires in 2013.

  10. I don’t see solar or wind as much different that base load that has to be supplemented with natural gas dispatch.

    If you operate wind/solar in conjunction with natural gas – you end up not need more base load.

    natural gas is expensive compared to base load power just as wind/solar are but base load is also expensive because it cannot be ramped up and down as fast as natural gas turbines can.

    we are biased toward coal and nukes.. and we call them “sound” and wind/solar “unreliable”. what do we call natural gas? It’s not cheap.

  11. gov’t subsidies for investments such as Solyndra and this http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2011/10/20/update-fisker-karma-electric-car-gets-worse-mileage-than-an-suv/ does not do justice to the notion, however.

    @ Larry, generation from natural gas is around $90/MWh, wind is around $50/MWh, solar around $100/MWh. I guess one day, several wind and solar farms from several different regions, can combine and serve as baseload, but I doubt that reliability standards would classify it as such without a long history of usage, even with natural gas backup. Natural gas turbines do have a shorter lifespan and more frequent maintenance requirements, if run 24/7 compared to nuclear or coal.

    The key I believe to make renewables baseline, is the smart grid and its ability to manage the load, and how well it will (or can) implement EEC (energy efficiency & conservation) programs, once renewable output fades on any given day. Resources made available from EEC, has the potential to exceed the combination of all three, gas, wind and solar, and it would be much cheaper, in the neighborhood of $20/MWh.

    I’m not 100% sure of your point, but its not so much of what resource is more reliable or cheaper than the other, there are regional factors which affect availability and ultimately affects costs. The point in my opinion, is how might each different resource can be made part of the energy portfolio, when and how much.

  12. Perhaps what you may be feeling is, since Virginia lacks being the leader of one single energy resource, it cannot become an energy capital of any region. Virginia because of its plan to improve its grid, as well as maintain its broad field of resources, it is probably has the most diverse portfolio of energy resources than any state. My guess NC is close. And because of this and its proximity to the northeast where every effort is being made to force the increase in energy there, it is #1 on the east coast in terms of exporting electricity. Why? Because having a diversified mix of energy resources, creates a more reliability and security, which ultimately helps in the long run, to keep costs down.

  13. @floodguy – I appreciate sharing your knowledge – seriously.

    I buy the need for the smart grid – but we probably need it anyhow because of the archaic and antiquated system we have now is not even optimal without the renewables.

    But more point is that we use Natural Gas because base load itself is not “reliable” in terms of ramping up or down quickly enough to respond to demands so what not view renewables the same way – let them generate when they do and supplement them with NG when they don’t?

    and if we:

    1. – subsidized wind/solar to the same level we do Nukes
    2. – pay private providers and homeowners that subsidy to add capacity
    3. – have a grid that can absorb thousands of trickle-back generation points

    why not?

  14. re: exporting electricity

    that benefits who – the investors?

    I would think if Va is going to incur the impacts of generating more electricity than it needs that some of the profits should be used to improve the grid and renewables plus retire older plants in Virginia.

    no?

    there ought to be a quid-pro-quo for the excess generation – that almost surely comes from coal plants that have major impacts not the least of which is mercury deposition on water bodies.

  15. Larry, the baseload resources, whatever they are, are the most reliable by definition. Baseload is only insufficient, when it cannot meet demand during certain periods in the summer and winter. As it is done now, some coal and mostly gas is used to carry the loads created during these spikes. This type of usage is much more predictable so there is far less wasted electricity, less cost, and pollution created by backup generators. Whereas NG firming wind or solar, especially in this region, it is far from predictable. NG units would have to run on standby more often then not, until we have a smarter grid. Such a grid would be able to communicate with itself and trigger EEC programs to smooth the supply as the transition is made to gas. Eventually, the wind and solar in regions like ours can be made into a baseline resource (that’s the concept anyways), if it is package with NG, smart grid and EEC programs. As mentioned, this isn’t much of a hurdle where wind or solar supply is more reliable and constant.

    With the rising cost of fossil fuel, a packaged resources as mentioned, will still be more expensive but still marketable, due to the fact it is another type of resource and this is good for the grid, and it is obviously more renewable and less polluting. Otherwise it is nearly impossible to sell wind and solar power as a stand alone resource, in regions like ours, without financial assistance. There is no market for it, unless it is forced onto utilities. And when the latter does occurs, more often then not, the grid is not capable of optimizing that power enough, so much of the electricity is never connected to the grid. Why? Because if electricity generated by wind or solar is variable, like in lower quality regions, the power being supplied will be variable. This is not good to the grid as fluctuation in the power supply can cause congestion, power surge, damage to T&D equipment not to mention blackout. All of these things cost ratepayers major money. A grid operator cannot allow reliability to fall anywhere close to this for they will face heavy fines up to $1M per day. So far their price, subsidized at that, plus the cost or damage they could bring to the grid, it is not viable in regions like Virginia yet.

    Subsidies are the federal gov’t way of bringing something to the market before the market is ready to do so itself. If the feds subsidize a nuke plant proposal, its because NERC believes the grid is more secure than w/o it. And because of it high price, a utility would needs to have a loan more relaxed than the market could afford, and pay it back over a longer period of time. Why, because the cost for the loan in addition to the power, is paid by the ratepayer over a longer period of time.

    Coal was subsidized after Three Mile Island because FERC was scared of nukes and in order to make the grid secure, new demand for baseline resources had to be anything but nuclear. This is why we have are stuck with allot of coal in the mid-term anyways.

    The utilities are opposed to carbon taxes for their coal plants, because they are speaking for their ratepayers. They are opposed to the fact the federal gov’t pushed them to build more coal in the 70s and 80s and now they want to turn around and punish buyers of coal generated electricity. Don’t forget whatever the coal generator is hit with in terms of a carbon tax, it will be sent down to the ratepayer.

    A smarter grid will allow for your item #2 and #3. Small generators whether from residential pv or wind or electric vehicle, will be paid in reverse of what they use – basically their electric meter will go backwards. Larger private resources gained thru EEC program like demand response and load mgmt, are contracted programs with a price tag which are approved by the SCC.

    Yes if DVP exports, it, the state and ratepayers all benefit in some fashion – the state thru tax revenue, and the ratepayer thru a recommendation from the RTO before prices are set by a state utility board.

    But remember who authorizes the importing of electricity via HVT? It is the RTO, and as mentioned, any grid operator who doesn’t comply with FERC reliability standards, gets a heavy fine each day a violation is made, up to $1M per day. If the grid operator doesn’t or can’t comply, the free market will present itself with one.

    You should look at DVP energy plan it is required to file with the state every other year, last being Sep 1 2011. The plan demonstrates their move from coal thru retirement or conversion to gas, as well as 12 new gas unit, more biomass, with the potential for nuclear, initial steps for an offshore wind farm, and a study in a solar farm in south-side. If you are even more interested, consider who really dictates energy developments – it’s the RTO once again. Each year they put out their RTEP, regional transmission expansion plan, and this is where utility providers take their queue from.

  16. FLoodguy – I probably buy about 90% of what you are saying and thank you for sharing that perspective.

    but I’m not sure that NUKES are “new” …. Clearly NUKES would not be viable if they had to purchase insurance sufficient to deal with their exposure.

    so the question is if we are willing to subsidize NUKES organically.. why not other sources on the same basis?

    are NUKES fundamentally flawed with respect to risk?

    why don’t we use NUKES that won’t melt down?

  17. Larry, I’m glad you are understanding this. This topic is very convoluted and difficult to explain. Without question both ends of the global warming debate have problems with this topic.

    To your first question, I think it’s more of a financial hurdle, is it not? A utility can’t just announce they’d like to develop a nuclear power plant and faced down all the different types of opposition alone. The DOE asks markets after consultation via FERC and NERC. From there I am assuming its all about the regulatory process and what price ratepayers will pay, as this determines how long it will takes to pay back the money to the DOE. I maybe wrong as this is not something I ever delved into.

    As for subsidizing other sources of energy, I believe we already do that. Wind subsidies are expiring next year. Why, probably bc they are cheaper now to manufacture, so in regions with quality resource availability, they are marketable w/o taxpayer assistance.

    As to why they aren’t subsidies for wind in places like inland Virginia and others? My belief is that it is still too premature. As I had previously mentioned, this would result in most of that resource never being used in the grid, at least until the grid is capable of optimizing it.

    Also there is going to be an efficiency break-even point somewhere, and this will be proportional to demand. There will be an certain amount of capacity from an intermittent resources, that will be less effective, i.e. more wasted resource, less industry profit, higher consumer cost per MWh, unless the demand grows in proportional to this sort of supply. Basically a utility wouldn’t want to have to high a percentage of renewable power serving a particular load, no more than it would to have any other resource. This is one of the driving forces towards alternative energy, which is being used to convince naysayers of AGW to get onboard. Remember, the more diverse the energy portfolio for any grid, chances are it is more secure, more reliable, more independent, and supplies cheaper electricity to its users.

    Are nukes flawed? No more than other resources I suppose, as there are plenty of issues with each, which is I have repeatedly pointed out, the more diverse the energy portfolio…

    Why don’t we use nukes which won’t melt down? That is being developed in Sandia Nat’l labs in NM, and a new technology is being tested by an outfit from Virginia called Lightbridge. This technology is currently being tested in Russia on an operational 1500MW nuke. Its a method which uses a thorium pod wrapped in around plutonium from old nuclear weapons stockpile. I am not in the technical know about this method’s detail, but from what I read, it burns slower and at a lower temperature than uranium, so it cannot become weaponized or suffer from a meltdown. Also because of its slow process, it virtually eats more of the plutonium resulting in much less waste than the nuclear power by uranium. The former CEO of the largest uranium supplier in the world Uranium One, was once quoted saying thorium supplies will surpass uranium by 2030.

  18. oops, meant to say “thorium sales will surpass uranium sales by 2030.”

  19. thanks floodguy.l The subsidy for NUKES is in capping the liability in the event of a catastrophe.

    If Dominion had to buy market insurance – NUKES would not be financially viable.

    that’s why I asked about NUKES that don’t have that risk – i.e. won’t need an insurance subsidy.

  20. well, that’s more of an overriding matter regarding the security and reliability the nation’s power grid, not of one particular utility. Generation of this type is always borne at the federal level, if not the DOE, then national regulators at FERC and NERC.

  21. I assume you are familiar with this:

    ” Insurance for nuclear or radiological incidents in the U.S. is organized by the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act. In general, nuclear power plants have private insurance and assessments that are pooled into a fund currently worth about $10 billion. Insurance claims beyond the fund’s size would be organized by, and probably paid by, the U.S. government. In July 2005, Congress extended this Act to newer facilities. For full history, details and controversy, see Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_new_nuclear_power_plants#United_States

  22. This still doesn’t avoid the overlying reason why there are nuclear reactors in the country and who requests to put them there. Don’t forgot, utilities are given a monopoly by governnment, so therefore, they really don’t operate freely in an open-market. So without financial loan assistance and liability caps, who’s going to build the nuclear power plant the federal gov’t and federal regulators insist we need? The federal gov’t? How about the Finnish gov’t?

    So now what you have done is re-directed the topic from Virginia and its future plans for power and why, to federal gov’t subsidies for power generation. I think the point you are driving at, maybe, is to say, if the nuclear energy sector can get this kind of surety from government, why can’t wind and solar? And therefore, why can’t the Republican leadership sign off on these types of things in order to bring more renewables to our state. Is that correct or am I drawing straws?

  23. naw..we’ve jumped the trolley here. What would you say if the govt “insisted” on wnd/solar – would we then switch to an economic argument?

    the govt never “insist” on Nukes – The utility companies came to the govt and said that without liability waivers they could not operate free market.

    so now we’re saying that some folks in both govt and private industry have concluded that even though NUKES are more expensive to operate in a free market that they are “better” and therefore worthy of govt subsidies.

    If the govt made a similar “better” argument for solar/wind – how could you reject that on economic grounds any more or less than you would NUKES?

    Wind/Solar do not cause lung disease, nor have mercury contamination, nor mountaintop removal acified streams,

    widespread wind/solar would still be “unreliable” in one sense but a distributed system with millions of power generation points would also have some advantages over single-point failure plants.

    In short – I’m not sure I buy the economic argument as much as I would buy the admission that we are heavily invested in our current system and that becomes the defacto standard with it’s built-in subsidies including environmental subsidies.

    so what’s the problem with this?

    solar/wind technologies are advancing and ultimately will prevail and if the power companies do not adopt – private individuals will as some already are building net zero homes.

    If we end up with a breakthrough and follow-on trend that moves as fast as say cell phones did – the utilities are going to end up with stranded investments which of course the investors will expect to be compensated by ratepayers and taxpayers.

    right now we have the worst of both worlds – a govt that is using taxpayer money to assist investor-owned utilities to maintain technologies that are doomed longer term and the utilities use that arrangement to not thing strategically because they are in effect insulated from the free market.

    but the free market still exists and still will evolve…whether the utilities do or not.

  24. I think the underlying principles with regards to the power grid, reliability, security and independence take precedent. From there, the positives and potentials are weighed against themselves and gov’t aid is applied accordingly. Wind & solar can be baseline in areas of high quality resources. In areas of less than high quality, they might be able to. Nuclear is pretty reliable and clean. And with this in mind, one cannot ignore the importances of energy diversity. So there will come a point when aid will make sense for wind/solar as a baseline investment if it can’t make it there with the market. Right now, neither wind or solar is used as baseline. If a person understands all this, I believe he/she too will believe, what regulators have been doing at the national level and at our state level, has been the best policymaking at that given time. Keep in mind, these people cannot predict the future, and since grid expansion isn’t free, not to mention how long the process takes, I can’t see any argument against them. Did you read this article? http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ib_11.htm Fyi, MI is a conservative lobby group. There are plenty of opinions from every angle, these folks have to consider. How it is that we, guys a like you and I, know what’s better when they, the regulators, are standing in the middle of it all?

  25. re: ” reliability, security and independence take precedent. From there, the positives and potentials are weighed against themselves and gov’t aid is applied accordingly. Wind & solar can be baseline in areas of high quality resources. In areas of less than high quality, they might be able to. Nuclear is pretty reliable and clean. And with this in mind, one cannot ignore the importances of energy diversity. ”

    can you see that you are not being objective but instead subjective and arbitrary?

    I’m not approaching this with GW in mind… just the economics including the existing subsidies for Nukes and Coal.

    you justify them with what appears to me to be an arbitrary bias for the status quo.

    you knock down wind because it won’t reduce carbon dioxide “much” but how does that compare to coal which is a huge net emitter of gases?

    I’m not making the argument here on GW as I said but I’m giving you an example of how you are arbitrarily entertaining a biased source judgement of wind as a reducer of CD when the comparison if you really want one should be between a unit of energy from coal compared to a unit of energy from wind (or solar).

    the same goes for subsidies both financial and environmental.

    Most of the waterbodies in Va that are downwind from coal plants are heavily contaminated with mercury yet the complaint is that wind/solar are not as cost-effective as coal.

    you say wind is unreliable. I don’t think so. If you have a widely distributed installed base – the wind is virtually always going to be blowing somewhere – and shutting down one turbine has almost a negligible impact on overall generation whereas shutting down a coal or nuke plant requires major adjustments within the existing grid.

    I’ll admit from the get go that no consumer of energy is going to pay twice as much per month for electricity no matter how “good” it is.

    but I do question the built-in biases that factor the status-quo because ultimately it will result in stranded investments in technology overcome by newer technology.

    At some point – we have to be looking downstream at what is going to happen – ESPECIALLY if the power companies are being operated for the benefit of the public with subsidies from the ratepayers.

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