Bacon Bits: The Rules, California is Crazy, Rider E

The message is clear, the messenger not on this flyer attacking Emmett Hanger during the primary. There was a logo on the other side, but no disclaimer. Click for larger view.

This is the simple stuff, people.  Delegate Nick Freitas doesn’t seem to be the only person in the Republican camp complaining that the rules are a problem, at least when enforced.  A conservative activist group that went after state Senator Emmett Hanger in the June primary is now screaming “bloody murder” because Hanger filed a complaint with the Board of Elections over some handouts that lacked the state’s required disclaimer statements.  It is a simple rule we’ve all worked with for decades, and the penalty is a civil fine that might get up to $2,500, but probably won’t go near that high.  Yet here is the heated rhetoric being spouted, with a heavy push for funds: “This is nothing less than an elected official attempting to squash free speech and shut down our grassroots PAC. We will fight this effort for it endangers all voters of Virginia for the benefit of the political class.”  No, it’s just the rules. You already have a formal PAC, so you know about the rules.  By filing a complaint Hanger gave you the spotlight again for ten seconds, but that was his choice. 

Organic Carbon Capture Device

If you thought $20 for an LED bulb is nuts…Sarah Vogelsong over at Virginia Mercury (we shared a row at an SCC hearing Wednesday) has this story about how forest conservation groups in Virginia are being paid for the CO2 being absorbed by their trees.  Pay a carbon credit to a Virginia conservation group and your plant can pump out more carbon in the LA basin!  Without doubt 1) Californians can be talked into anything, simply anything, with the right green pitch, 2) this is truly a religion with Virginia reaping the indulgence payments for forgiveness of sins and 3) these people are not really serious about removing CO2 from the atmosphere if they think this does any good. 

The trees not cut in Virginia for the lumber industry are simply cut somewhere else, the economic concept of “leakage,” which is well described in this UC Berkley policy brief linked by Vogelsong.  Berkeley gets it!  Even more detail and some indication of the money trading hands can be found in this info the University of Tennessee provides to landowners:  $3,200 gross revenue for 200 acres of pine, but there’s an inventory fee, verification fee, trading fee…It is totally similar to how indulgence revenue got parsed by popes, bishops and parishes.  Where’s our Martin Luther?   

This one looks like a win for Dominion, not consumers (no surprise.)  The State Corporation Commission recently approved (here) Dominion Virginia Energy’s request to create a new rate adjustment clause (Rider E) for environmental compliance expenses, adding about $2 to monthly residential bills.  The news coverage and SCC news release focused on the $18 million in expenses on two Chesterfield County coal generators, now closed, that the SCC told the utility to eat.  But the Attorney General’s Office had challenged far more of the $300 million in expenses than just those, without success.  The SCC staff had pushed hard for the commission to make a major change to how such costs are allocated between residential, commercial and large industrial customers.  That would have implications for many future rate discussions and the Commission declined but left that question open for the future.  For background, here’s a previous Bacon’s Rebellion piece on Rider E.  Now that it is established, its annual review and true-up will start with a new filing in February 2020.  That is when the real cost of coal ash remediation may start to appear and Rider E may start to swell.

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7 responses to “Bacon Bits: The Rules, California is Crazy, Rider E

  1. Observations:

    (1) On the brink of losing their majority in the General Assembly, Republicans have formed a circular firing squad.

    (2) Haha! If Virginia owners of woodlands can gull California idiots to pay them money for growing trees, I say it’s great. Keep the checks coming!

    (3) If the state forces an electric utility to invest in environmental compliance, then it is entirely reasonable for the utility to collect reimbursement from taxpayers. The trick is whether the investment was prudent. I suppose reasonable people can disagree on specifics. What expenses did the SCC fail to block?

    • As to (3), mainly about $280 million for other coal-ash related work at coal-fired generators around the state and at Mt Storm in West Virginia. The work that was their original proposal for compliance with the EPA rule, including the new landfill for the Chesterfield facility, the road improvements to get to it, etc. Next they have to expand on that to meet the new 2019 requirements, wherein the General Assembly (breaking with decades of precedent) imposed standards which are more stringent than the feds. It blocked cost recovery on some work on two generators, Chesterfield 3 and 4, which went forward even though Dominion knew or should have known those plants were kaput in short order. Not prudent at all…..

  2. I was excited at first about the California plan. My family owns some land in Halifax County that is mostly wooded. This would be a good way to “monetize” that property. (I hate that word!) But, then I read on and discovered that it is not economical for the small landowner. Oh, well.

    As I was reading this piece, it occurred to me that an environmentalist who owns a large tract of open land could be faced with a dilemma: Do I plant the land in trees and pull a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere or do I lease it to a solar energy company and cover it with solar panels that make electricity without using carbon?

    • I thought of that, too. It’s been obvious all along that cutting down trees to build a solar field was a two-edged sword. Perhaps you can pay an indulgence for that sin, too.

    • But its worse than that. Much carbon goes into making, maintaining and disposing of those panel, then restoring the mess left in their wake. Same or worse with wind towers.

      See this:

      Zeeland removing wind turbines after several issues, charles the moderator / 4 days ago August 4, 2019

      by: Whitney Burney

      Posted: Aug 1, 2019 / 05:28 PM EDT / Updated: Aug 1, 2019 / 06:51 PM EDT

      HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Wind turbines in Helder Park in Holland Township are being torn down.

      The city of Zeeland built the turbines in 2009 in an effort to use more sustainable energy.

      The turbines were placed outside the city limits due to zoning issues. The park was chosen by engineers who believed it was the best place to generate wind.

      It cost the city about $457,000. Right after the turbines went up, the city says things went downhill.

      An Aug. 1, 2019 photo shows crews working to remove wind turbines from Helder Park in Zeeland.

      “Shortly after that, the manufacturer of those units went out of business,” said Andrew Boatright with the city’s public works department.

      Boatright says it made finding parts to repair the turbines nearly impossible and incredibly costly.

      “The maintenance issues were a big problem. In 2014, there was a significant period of no operation,” Boatright added. “It just got to a point where they became a maintenance concern and a safety hazard.”

      Boatright says there was an instance where break tips fell off one of the turbines and landed in a nearby field.

      He says on top of safety and maintenance concerns — the turbines were barely generating energy.

      Over a 20-year period, the turbines were expected to create enough energy to pay off the almost half-million dollars used to build them. At the near halfway mark, it’s not even close to that goal, Boatright said.
      An Aug. 1, 2019 photo shows crews working to remove wind turbines from Helder Park in Zeeland.

      “Shortly after that, the manufacturer of those units went out of business,” said Andrew Boatright with the city’s public works department.

      Boatright says it made finding parts to repair the turbines nearly impossible and incredibly costly.

      “The maintenance issues were a big problem. In 2014, there was a significant period of no operation,” Boatright added. “It just got to a point where they became a maintenance concern and a safety hazard.”

      Boatright says there was an instance where break tips fell off one of the turbines and landed in a nearby field.

      He says on top of safety and maintenance concerns — the turbines were barely generating energy.

      Over a 20-year period, the turbines were expected to create enough energy to pay off the almost half-million dollars used to build them. At the near halfway mark, it’s not even close to that goal, Boatright said. End Quote.

      For more see:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/08/04/zeeland-removing-wind-turbines-after-several-issues/

    • “But, then I read on and discovered that it is not economical for the small landowner. Oh, well.”

      Giving up so easily?

      It was not economical for individual car owners to become part time limo drivers until Uber came along. It was not feasible for individuals with poor credit to get mortgages until bundling came along.

      Voila.

      You register your trees with CarbonRebellion (a wholly owned subsidiary of BaconsRebellion). The veracity of your registration is confirmed via publicly available satellite data using machine language driven computer vision (i.e. software verifies that you do, in fact, have trees). Small parcels are bundled into large parcels. Large parcels, dedicated to remaining undeveloped, are sold as offsets to environmentalists in California. If the sub-parcels become developed newly registered sub-parcels are used to rebuild the original parcel.

      While an average acre of northern woodlands has 5,500 trees nearly 5,300 are seedlings or saplings and 8 are standing dead trees. That leaves 182 mature trees (presumably doing the lion’s share of carbon reduction).

      https://www.fs.fed.us/ne/newtown_square/publications/resource_bulletins/pdfs/scanned/OCR/ne_rb124.pdf

      The article references $3,200 for 200 acres or $16 per acre. But there are only 182 muscled up carbon reducing trees on that acre or about 9 cents per carbon-killer tree. Given the high resolution capabilities of modern satellites CarbonRebellion will catalog INDIVIDUAL mature trees on everybody’s land and send the tree owners e-mails, text messages, Instagram notifications, Tinder enviro-swipes, etc alerting them to the revenue producing opportunities on their land.

      Naturally, CarbonRebellion will require a fee of 30% of all revenues generated.

  3. re” If the state forces an electric utility to invest in environmental compliance, then it is entirely reasonable for the utility to collect reimbursement from taxpayers”

    Nope. The State is FORCING ratepayers to pay for something as bad as folks paying to plant trees except the state is forcing people to do it and the trees are voluntary.

    In terms of land conservation – I’m sure ya’ll have heard about the State forcing other taxpayers to subsidize those who “set aside” land that was not useable for anything to start with, right?

    And I’m sure ya’ll have heard the phrase Wetland Mitigation where VDOT (taxpayers) PAY for someone to “set aside” some wetland to make up for the losses due to a new road, right?

    In terms of solar verses trees (or farmland) , or the “loss” of either – I again urge folks to take a trip across Virginia and observe the thousands and thousands of acres of open fields that are no longer farmed – lying fallow that could be used for solar or trees and sometimes is used to plant grain for wildlife OR a pump-storage reservoir. Or how about solar panels on closed coal mines or closed coal power plants or along power-line rights of ways that millions of dollars are spent to keep clear of vegetation?

    The idea that we are locked into binary choices on these issues just demonstrates our problem with one-dimensional thinking on these issues (and others like Climate).

    We are not limited to win/lose choices – but we do suffer from limited thinking and the real question is why – we can do solar without losing trees so why do we say we cannot?

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