Do you believe in magic? Then you’ll believe green power saves money

Don’t you sometimes get the feeling all levels of government are little more than a shell game in which the pea is always in someone’s pocket. You lay down your bet, as the grifter lays down an incessant prattle, but you never pick up any winnings.

Only in this game, they won’t let you walk away, and they keep insisting you are winning.

Take the city of Las Vegas’ new deal with NV Energy in which the city claims it will be operating on 100 percent renewable energy at no additional cost. They announced the deal at a press conference recently at which there were more people doing the announcing than there were members of the press.

The mayor and other highly-paid city officials as well as the well-compensated head of NV Energy declared that a new three-year contract would free the city of ever using a single electron of fossil fuel-tainted power again. The city would be powered around-the-clock by a 100-megawatt solar photo-voltaic power plant farm near Boulder City, though the explanation for how they are going to keep the street lights on at night was shuffled away under a shell.

All this would save the planet and save the taxpayers money, the officials boasted as they shuffled to the podium.

You see that extra quarter of a million dollars a year in payments to NV Energy under this contract would be offset by savings due to energy efficiency and other green goblins such as retrofits. No one ever did say what the capital costs of those savings are or what the maintenance costs are or the return on investment over the life of the green goodies.

The city’s chief sustainability officer — yes, that is what the mayor called him, as well as the city’s green guru — bragged about getting $9 million to $10 million in rebates and millions more in grants for the city’s renewable energy scams, as though that money was picked from the magic money tree out back instead from the pockets of taxpayers and ratepayers. According to Transparent Nevada, the chief sustainability officer is paid more than a quarter of million dollars a year in pay and benefits to come up with these “savings.”

(It reminds me of all the times Harry Reid bragged about the solar panels at Nellis Air Force Base saving $1 million year, without ever mentioning the array cost $100 million and would last only 20 or 30 years, at most.)

The NV Energy guy bragged about the company paying less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour for the solar power it would be selling to the city, without mentioning that the SunPower Corp. had to contract with a buyer before the federal investment tax credit for solar power drops from 30 percent to 10 percent. More pickings from the money tree.

They never did say what the city would be paying per kilowatt-hour, though the sustainability guy said the contract was for 43 million kWh annually and the newspaper said the contract was for $20 million a year, which works out to 46.5 cents a kWh, which would be four times the residential retail rate for power and makes no sense at all. So, I don’t what the city is paying and whether it is a good deal or not to go green.

It all seems like a bit of sleight of hand that we are supposed to believe is magic.

Boulder Solar project

Pay no attention to the fact that in order to save the planet, as they hope to do in Paris in a couple of days, it will cost the global economy $1 trillion a year while preventing a total temperature rise by 2100 of only 0.306 degrees Fahrenheit.



66 comments on “Do you believe in magic? Then you’ll believe green power saves money

  1. agent provocateur says:

    Reblogged this on Nevada State Personnel Watch.

  2. Rincon says:

    Conservatives could have had a say by advocating the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, which would have helped curtail their use the most efficient way possible. Unfortunately, they appear to support them, which lessens their overall credibility, allowing the Liberals to sneak in many of their own expensive ideas.

  3. Steve says:

    Getting rid of the subsidies you mention, Rincon, would have meant eliminating the same thing for all business’s since those so called “subsidies” are simply tax deductions made for every business, including and on top of, the subsidies specifically designed for “green” energy.

  4. Patrick says:

    Total cost of subsidies to oil industry leaves all others in dust. Odd that when “costs” are parceled out, they are socialized, and only the benefits are privatized isn’t it? Can’t remember the last American blood shed, or trillions spent fighting a war in the Middle East for solar, wind, or geothermal power.

    But maybe my mind is just unclear. Possibly someone here could remind me?

  5. Steve says:

    “Total cost of subsidies”


  6. Patrick says:

    “Total Costs of subsidies for fossil fuels”


    More than 5 TRILLION dollars per year”

  7. Patrick says:

    Or more defined:

    “Milton Copulus, the head of the National Defense Council Foundation, has a different view. And as the former principal energy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a 12-year member of the National Petroleum Council, a Reagan White House alum, and an advisor to half a dozen U.S. Energy Secretaries, various Secretaries of Defense, and two directors of the CIA, he knows his stuff.

    After taking into account the direct and indirect costs of oil, the economic costs of oil supply disruption, and military expenditures, he estimates the true cost of oil at a stunning $480 a barrel.”

  8. Steve says:



    different views abound

    even you, found one

  9. In the inimitable words of a former White House spokesman…NV Energy’s latest yarn is “magic beans and fairy dust!” Let’s not forget…the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has been playing this “green game” charade for public consumption for many years now. Most electrical utilities have been forced to play this game…or suffer the political and regulatory consequences.

  10. Rincon says:

    “Getting rid of the subsidies you mention, Rincon, would have meant eliminating the same thing for all business’s since those so called “subsidies” are simply tax deductions made for every business…” Come on Steve. Have you been asleep in previous discussions? How about the free rights to drill in the gulf? According to the news articles of the time, that would have cost the oil companies about $65 billion on private land. And the cost of guarding our oil supply doesn’t count? Patrick mentioned that we haven’t been to war lately with a country that produces wind or solar energy. And when it comes to subsidies and tax deductions NOT shared with other industries, try these on for size:

    “Firms engaged in the exploration and development of oil or gas properties may expense (deduct in the year paid or incurred) certain types of drilling expenditures from their taxes. These costs include wages, fuel, repairs, hauling, and supplies related to and necessary for drilling and preparing wells for the production of oil and gas. Other companies incurring similar types of costs must recover this cost over the life of the investment.”

    “Percentage depletion allows an independent oil company to deduct from its taxes about 15 percent from the revenue generated from a well, even if that amount exceeds the well’s total value. This means that oil companies take a deduction as long as a well is producing oil, without regard to how much, or whether, the well is still declining in value. Companies in other industries are only allowed to deduct an amount that represents the decline in their investment’s value that year.”

    “The government generally only allows investors to deduct a limited amount of losses from “passive activities” such as renting land in order to prevent tax shelters. Yet oil and gas properties are exempt from this rule.”

    “Companies that manufacture, produce, or extract oil and gas or any primary derivative receive a manufacturing subsidy provided that the product was made in the United States.”

    “The Energy Policy Act of 2005 created this tax subsidy, which allows companies to deduct the costs associated with searching for oil, recovering the costs over a two-year period.”

    “Companies receive a 15 percent income tax credit for the costs of recovering domestic oil when they use “enhanced oil recovery” methods to extract oil that is too viscous to be extracted by conventional primary and secondary water-flooding techniques.”

    “The total government savings from eliminating these subsidies is projected to be $45 billion over 10 years.”

    Same as other industries? Why don’t you tell me about Goldilocks and the three bears while you’re at it. I haven’t heard that one for awhile.

  11. Steve says:

    Please, Rincon. You keep singling out deductions for one industry as if deductions don’t exist for any other industry.
    The issue is subsidies, not deductions.

  12. Rincon says:

    Read carefully. Quoting from above: “Other companies incurring similar types of costs must recover this cost over the life of the investment. Companies in other industries are only allowed to deduct an amount that represents the decline in their investment’s value that year. …oil and gas properties are exempt from this rule. …receive a manufacturing subsidy… The Energy Policy Act of 2005 created this tax subsidy… Companies receive a 15 percent income tax credit.

    Does any of that sound like it exists for other industries? If so, prove it.

  13. Rincon says:

    Your source appears to be on the fringe Winston. According to Wikipedia, “The personal links between the paper’s editors and the leadership of the Conservative Party, along with the paper’s generally right-wing stance and influence over Conservative activists, have resulted in the paper commonly being referred to, especially in Private Eye, as the Torygraph.”

    “Booker’s views on global warming run counter to statements issued by the IPCC, and the scientific consensus on climate change.” and, “Booker has also argued in support of intelligent design, claiming that supporters of the theory of evolution “rest their case on nothing more than blind faith and unexamined a priori assumption” Intelligent design? Wait for his upcoming books on UFO’s and DDT, the unfairly maligned insecticide. Sure to be classics

    If you believe what this guy writes, why don’t I just quote an article from the Sierra Club Bulletin?

    As a conspiracy theorist, you need to consider the fact that a conspiracy involving a small number of people is much easier to engineer than a conspiracy involving huge numbers. How do you know it’s not a Conservative conspiracy? They are a pretty insular bunch.

  14. Steve says:

    C’mon Rincon. Other comparable industries operate over years on a single project. Drilling can take less than a month.

  15. Rincon says:

    Fact is, these are special breaks for the oil and gas industry. You overgeneralize greatly as well. Did it take less than a month to develop Alaska’s oil? How about the gulf rigs? For that matter, where is your evidence that rigs typically produce in less than a month? For that matter, don’t new machines often begin production less than a month after being installed in a factory? If you claim the oil business needs its own special breaks because it’s soooo different from other businesses, then what makes you think all other businesses are the same? Each has its own characteristics, but oil gets far more breaks than just about any other.industry. Since the wind and solar industry are so unique, then I propose that any subsidies and tax breaks are just as legitimate as those for oil. How could you disagree without being inconsistent?

    I’m not so sure you’re a genuine Conservative, Steve. You’re sounding more like a Republican shill.

  16. Steve says:

    Don’t like it when called out on redefining things?

    Subsidies are not deductions. To take a deduction one must first spend the money. Subsidies are provided before money is committed.

  17. Rincon says:

    You’re playing rhetorical games. A dollar is a dollar. What it’s called is a word game. Besides, what difference does it make to you? Are you saying that billions in tax deductions for a privileged industry are acceptable?

  18. Steve says:

    No it isn’t….try deducting money for taxes when you haven’t spent it. Check with your accountant.

  19. Rincon says:

    Please tell me if I’m putting words in your mouth, but I can come to no other conclusion except that you believe all of these special tax breaks for the oil and gas industries are justified. This doesn’t sound like the position of a true Conservative. If true though, please explain to me why special tax breaks are not also justified for wind and solar?

  20. Steve says:

    Again, try to deduct losses on money you HAVE NOT SPENT.

    Tax deductions are not subsidies.

  21. nyp says:

    Let’s say that our elected representatives decided to encourage the development of the molybdenum industry by allowing taxpayers to deduct molybdenum investments from their adjusted gross income.
    Is that a tax subsidy?

  22. nyp says:

    Oh, that’s great to know. now I know that when I receive a reduction in my taxes to partly compensate me for purchasing a health insurance policy from one of the new ACA exchanges, that isn’t tax subsidy.

  23. Steve says:

    Quit the crap.
    You don’t receive any reduction for ACA…you pay taxes and they fund the subsidies to insurance companies.
    And you are trying to conflate deductions with reductions, both of which are not subsidies.

  24. nyp says:

    they are written into the ACA as tax subsidies. The government merely simplifies the process by paying the credit directly to the insurer.. That is why they are universally referred to as tax subsidies.

    Your problem is that your made-up distinction between “deductions” and “subsidies” makes no sense, and is contrary to every accepted definition of “tax subsidy.”

    Apart from that, it’s OK

  25. Steve says:

    For an insurance company to get a tax subsidy, we have to spend money on insurance through the ACA. THIS IS NOT A DEDUCTION.
    It is a subsidy FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES, because it is law that people without health coverage are to buy insurance.

    Subsidy, yes. DEDUCTION, no.

  26. nyp says:

    It is written into the law as a tax credit for qualified taxpayers who purchase health insurance on the exchanges. The government simply simplifies things by sending the credit directly to the insurer.

    Your problem is that your distinction between “deductions” and ‘subsidies” is completely artificial, makes no economic sense, and is contrary to every accepted definition of tax subsidy.

    Other than that, it’s OK

  27. nyp says:

    Sorry for the double comment.
    Yup, it is a tax subsidy in the form of a tax credit.
    One can also provide a tax subsidy for certain activities in the form of a tax deduction.

    Either way, we as a society choose to encourage certain socially productive activities through the creation of special tax breaks.

    BTW, the ACA tax subsidy benefits the taxpayer who is enabled to purchase health insurance for his family through the use of the credit.

  28. Steve says:

    You jumped into this trying to support Rincon’s assertion tax deductions are the same as subsidies.

    We have shown that to be a falsehood. Subsidies are not Deductions. (period)

  29. nyp says:

    Oy. Tax credits and tax deductions are two different means of providing tax subsidies. They subsidize beneficial activities through the tax mechanism.

  30. Steve says:

    Subsidies are not deductions. The only way to get a deduction is to spend money first.
    Subsidies provide money whether any is spent or not.

  31. nyp says:

    A subsidy is not a deduction, but a deduction is one form of a subsidy.

  32. Steve says:

    Look, you can qualify for deductions for Solar installations, but if your income and assets and debts do not exceed the standard deduction, you don’t get to take the deduction for the solar system.
    You have to spend money to get a deduction. A deduction can be an incentive, but it is an incentive to spend in a particular way and to a particular minimum.

    A subsidy is always money from the government, whether you owe any tax or not. You can get a subsidy even if you don’t have to file a 1040. You cannot get any deduction at all if you don’t file a tax return.

    A subsidy is not a deduction and a deduction is not a subsidy.

  33. nyp says:

    so what? If you spend money on something society deems to be socially beneficial — like contributing to charity or having a mortgage — your tax bill will be lower than it otherwise would be. Society is giving you a tax subsidy.

  34. Steve says:

    No it is a deduction on taxes. If it were a subsidy you would get a check in the mail without having to spend money first.

  35. Steve says:

    oy, indeed.

    Subsidies are not deductions.
    Deductions are not subsidies.

  36. nyp says:

    for some reason, I will try again.
    I get to deduct from my income the interest I pay on my home mortgage.
    the guy in the next office does not get to deduct from his income the rent he pays on his apartment.
    That is because society wishes to encourage home ownership.
    It does so through a tax subsidy in the form of a deduction.
    But Steve doesn’t see it that way.

  37. Steve says:

    “I get to deduct from my income the interest I pay on my home mortgage.”
    Which you pay out over the course of a year.
    If you do not reach the standard deduction, you DO NOT get the home mortgage deduction.
    In any case you DO NOT get paid in advance.
    You have provided yet ANOTHER example of a tax INCENTIVE.

    The Assistance Dog Special Allowance (ADSA) Program provides a monthly payment of $50 to eligible persons who use a guide, signal, or service dog to help them with needs related to their disabilities. The allowance is to help pay the costs of food, grooming, and health care for the dogs.

    Note the difference.

    A subsidy is not a deduction
    A deduction is not a subsidy.

  38. Rincon says:

    A rose by any other name…or a skunk.

  39. Steve says:

    Apple Orange.
    Not a rose.

    A subsidy is not a deduction
    A deduction is not a subsidy.

  40. Rincon says:

    In that case, let’s just give everybody a 100% tax deduction. After all, according to you, they do no harm. And then none of us would have to pay taxes.

  41. Rincon says:

    Subsidy: Government ends up with a dollar less; business ends up with a dollar more.

    Tax deduction: Government ends up with a dollar less; business ends up with a dollar more.

    So the difference is….rhetorical, not practical.

  42. Steve says:

    The difference is, deduction =you must spend the money before you might get a deduction. (must meet a minimum test)

    Subsidy= payout from gov’t no matter if you pay any tax at all


  43. Rincon says:

    So let’s just give everybody a 100% tax deduction. After all, according to you, they do no harm. Since I spend money on my animal hospital, I at least want extra deductions just for veterinarians. You would support that, right?

  44. nyp says:

    I suppose then that the federal Standard Deduction is not really a deduction.

  45. Steve says:

    “So let’s just give everybody a 100% tax deduction.”
    Has nothing to do with subsidies.

    “I suppose then that the federal Standard Deduction is not really a deduction.”
    Has nothing to do with subsidies.

    A subsidy is not a deduction
    A deduction is not a subsidy.

  46. nyp says:

    What money do I have to prove I have spent in order to claim a Standard Deduction?

  47. Steve says:

    A deduction is not a subsidy.

    Stop being obstreperous.

  48. Rincon says:

    In both cases, the company gets billions of dollars that they wouldn’t have had without the favoritism of politicians. Philosophers can argue all day, but the accountants agree. Both add to profits. Who cares what you call them? It’s all money.

    I agree that a tax deduction is not technically a subsidy. What I find repugnant is your view that special tax favors for oil and gas companies are acceptable.

  49. Steve says:

    What I find repugnant

    Is I didn’t say that either.

    I said Subsidies are not Deductions. Now that you (reluctantly) understand it, you can understand that deductions for one business are the same as deductions for another, all business’s get deductions.
    Some business’s get deductions AND subsidies on top of it all!

    THAT is the elephant in the issue.

  50. Rincon says:

    There was no reason to split hairs about the totally philosophical and unimportant difference between a subsidy and a tax deduction unless you were justifying preferential tax treatment of oil companies – or, I suppose, just yanking my chain. I said it several times and you never took the trouble to deny it. The elephant in the room is that Conservatives are happy to dole out tax deductions to the politically connected. The more rich and powerful they are, the more they justify their preferential treatment. But they consider any subsidy for any reason an outrage. Moral bankruptcy.

  51. Steve says:

    “totally philosophical and unimportant difference ”

    Wrong. To get a deduction one must first PAY taxes into the system,

    A subsidy comes with NOTHING payed. If there is no difference then why even have taxes? Just pay subsidies to everyone, lets see how that works, Rincon.


  52. Rincon says:

    I’ll just have to get used to the idea that you think it’s just great that oil and gas companies pay less tax (as a percentage) than just about every other business. That certainly has one effect that’s identical to that of a subsidy: It keeps prices low, encouraging greater consumption while causing the national debt to grow even faster. And you think that’s a good thing?

  53. Steve says:

    What they manage to do is defer or delay paying the taxes. They do not get to deduct them nor does the government send them subsidy checks.

    Now these deferrals/delays are being stretched out as far as they can (like people do with inherited IRA’s) this does not mean they will never actually pay the taxes. They will eventually pay them.
    If what you want to do is make them pay sooner rather than later then you have an intelligent and coherent argument, but to continually conflate the meaning and nature of the issue at hand is only going to continue to cloud your message.
    Knowing what the reality is makes it much easier to discuss the perception and possible problem, in this case the problem exists in the form of nearly never ending deferrals and delays in that industry’s payment of their taxes.

    But they do not get subsidies.

  54. Steve says:

    And they are still on the hook for payment of their taxes.

  55. nyp says:

    Latest jobs report another 211,000 jobs created in November alone. Unemployment down at 5%.
    Which Obama policy deserves the blame for this socialist catastrophe — the jobs-killing ObummerCare? Or his war on cheap gasoline?

  56. Steve says:

    wage pressure is stagnant

  57. nyp says:

    there – that’s it!

  58. Steve says:

    ACA was supposed to push wages up as employer sponsored health coverage was discouraged…..hasn’t happened and with “Cadillac” tax going away it won’t happen. ACA keeps people waiting in the wings and potential employers offering less.

  59. nyp says:

    wait — you guys said that healthreform would cause employers to drop employees from their company-sponsored plans! Now you are saying that hasn’t happened (true), and that it’s a bad thing.
    So hard to keep the narratives straight.

  60. Rincon says:

    Why don’t you read before you write, Steve? Although they do get tax deferrals,the bulk of the list of tax breaks that I originally entered above are clearly termed tax DEDUCTIONS, CREDITS and SUBSIDIES. The $65 billion for free Gulf drilling also is a gift, not a deferral. As I said, let H & R Block do your taxes, because you don’t seem to understand them, or maybe you’re just pulling my chain.

    A tax deferral, if carried long enough, can be worth more than the money deferred, just as a mortgage payer pays more in interest than he does on the home. Don’t dismiss it.

  61. Steve says:

    Due diligence Rincon. They don’t get subsidy checks.

    Stop conflating.

  62. Rincon says:

    To think government handouts only come in the form of checks is pretty limited. I would have sworn you were capable of deeper thinking than that.

  63. Rincon says:

    I forgot to thank you for the vocabulary lesson. Conflating isn’t necessarily bad. There are lumpers and splitters. I’m a lumper in this case and you’re a splitter. Lumpers of course are smarter. Better looking too!

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