Editorial: Nevada should drop its renewable energy mandate

Spring Valley wind farm

It is high time Nevada dumped its ill-advised, pocket-picking, job-killing renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS).

By Nevada law by 2025 fully 25 percent of all electrical power generated in the state must come from renewable sources such as wind and solar and geothermal, but these power sources are far more expensive than generating power with natural gas and coal.

Nevada is not alone in its decision to warp the power market under the delusion that “cleaner” power will stop the rising seas and delay by a few minutes the frying of the planet — 28 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted RPS laws.

Natural Resource Economics’ researcher Timothy Considine recently delved into the economic impact of these laws in 12 states, including Nevada. The 98-page report has been posted on Nevada Policy Research Institute’s website.

Those 12 states included ones in four regions of the country. — the Northeast and

Mid-Atlantic states of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Delaware; the South Atlantic states of Virginia and North and South Carolina; the Midwestern state of Wisconsin, and five western states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon.

Of all those states, Nevada has the most stringent RPS and therefore was impacted the greatest in most cases.

Considine notes that RPS requirements not only directly affect power bills, but also everything from job growth to business investment is also negatively affected by more costly power. The benefits of renewable energy are far outweighed by that cost.

“Looking at Nevada specifically,” Considine writes, “the net cost of

renewable standards are striking:

“— Energy prices are expected to climb by nearly 15 percent in 2016.

“— Employment growth will be reduced by more than 11,000 jobs in 2016 due to higher energy costs.

“— Economic growth will be reduced by more than $1.7 billion in 2016.

“The impact of such renewable standards is clearly dramatic — draining vitality out of Nevadans’ efforts to fully recover from years of sluggish economic growth.”

And those impacts are projected to continue, with minor declines in impact, until at least 2040.

That 15 percent increase in power costs was the highest of any of the 12 states examined, and remains among the highest through 2025. The number of jobs killed is also the highest, when calculated as a percentage of the current labor force.

Every job sector in Nevada would see jobs lost due to higher costs, except one, utilities, of course. The service sector, which includes gaming, would be the hardest hit, bearing two-thirds of the job losses.

In 2013, Nevada generated more than 36.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity, with 68 percent coming from natural gas, 14 percent from coal, slightly more than 7.3 percent from geothermal, and 7.4 percent from hydroelectricity — much of the latter used by California. Solar power accounted for 2 percent of total generation and wind contributed 0.7 percent.

The study calculates that in order to meet its RPS, Nevada must increase its solar and wind power output by more than 87 percent.

“The increases in average electricity costs from new RPS capacity additions are 32.85 percent in 2016, rising to 37.58 percent in 2020, 37.33 percent in 2025, and 21.32 percent in 2040,” Considine relates. “With legacy costs average electricity rates in Nevada increase 14.77 percent in 2016 due to renewable energy portfolio standards. After 2016, rates increase 15.6 percent in 2020, more than 15 percent in 2025, and 9-13 percent from 2030 to 2040.”

The total cost per ton of carbon dioxide avoided in Nevada amounts to nearly $77 a ton. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the social value of carbon reduction to be about $36 per ton.

Is this trip really necessary?

A version of this editorial appeared this past week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

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30 comments on “Editorial: Nevada should drop its renewable energy mandate

  1. Steve says:

    Why couldn’t Nevada do the same thing by capturing Co2?

    There are new processes for this and one is just to the north of the USA carbonengineering.com

    After all, isn’t the whole thing all about being “carbon neutral”?
    With that process, Nevada could easily be carbon negative while generating all our electricity with natural gas and impacting the land and environment very little instead of covering over whole swaths of land with panels and erecting huge numbers of spinning bird killers.

    Oh well, being liberal ≠ being logical.

  2. Rincon says:

    The carbon neutrality thing isn’t being done on a very rational basis in the first place. The cheapest, fairest and most efficient way, by far, would be a carbon tax. Unfortunately, with humans being the emotion-driven fools that we are, any tax causes a violent allergic reaction, while wind and solar sound green and high tech and are therefore, attractive.

  3. Steve says:

    A carbon “tax” does nothing to scrub carbon from the atmosphere. In fact all such a “tax” does is favor one industry while allowing another to continue emitting as much carbon as they can “afford” to emit.

  4. Rincon says:

    Perhaps the concept is a little over your head. Good night Steve.

  5. Steve says:

    “Perhaps the concept is a little over your head.”
    Another concession by insult.

  6. Rincon says:

    Sorry Steve. I suspect that you’re just baiting me, but that doesn’t justify such a rude comment. Please accept my apologies

    Carbon tax goes to supply and demand. If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less, tax it. Today, our greatest tax is on human labor. Why would we want to discourage labor by taxing it? Better to discourage excessive use of fossil fuels and lift some of the discouragement from labor. Instead of a tax though, I would be perfectly content to just remove the present subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies and investors. To avoid a nit picking discussion regarding tax breaks, I also advocate the abolition of all or almost all tax breaks for everyone else as well.

  7. Steve says:

    Trouble with that is carbon taxes all include a process for trading carbon credits.
    This always results in the same amount of carbon emissions. Specially when it comes to staying warm in the northern winters or cool in the southern summers.
    Supply and demand always take precedent.

    As there are real ways to scrub atmospheric Co2, why be so against it? Why demand such onerous “solutions” that are constantly showing themselves to be the exact opposite of the definition of the word?

    Natural gas has lowered the output and scrubbers have real potential to make energy production carbon negative.

    And this seems to upset many people on the left…..Liberal ≠ Logical

  8. Rincon says:

    “Trouble with that is carbon taxes all include a process for trading carbon credits.” Not true. We should merely tax them. No trading required.

    “As there are real ways to scrub atmospheric Co2, why be so against it?” Never said I was.

    “Natural gas has lowered the output and scrubbers have real potential to make energy production carbon negative.” Scrubbers? I’ve never heard the term used for that purpose.

  9. Steve says:

    WooHoo!
    Your favorite “source” was the first hit!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_scrubber

  10. Rincon says:

    Thank you for teaching me about this. I am not against it per se,but it appears that CO2 scrubbing is not quite ready for prime time on a large scale. More research may be justified. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amine_gas_treating

  11. Steve says:

    For practical application and current small scale operations, see carbonengineering.com

  12. iShrug says:

    The entire premise that carbon is a pollutant is flawed. Entire industries now exist, based upon this premise, and carbon has become a taxable commodity, as well as a form of currency. Try buying groceries with carbon credits. I have far more faith in bitcoin.

  13. Rincon says:

    Anything is a pollutant in large enough amounts. Even 100% oxygen, if breathed for a long enough period can be fatal. If excess carbon dioxide does indeed warm the earth significantly, as 97% of climate scientists famously agree, then it is a bona fide pollutant. Carbon trading schemes are vastly inferior to simple carbon taxes, but more acceptable politically because people react emotionally to any tax.

  14. Steve says:

    Yup, that is the consensus on Co2, you got that right.
    But there is no consensus as to what source for Co2 is the biggest offender…for instance permafrost easily holds far more Co2 than anything human activity is doing.
    There are a good number of studies that show a very likely cause for geological Co2 events were actually cause by permafrost melts due to other drivers of warming. And it is clear that permafrost is melting again.
    It’s just another case of what ever humans do to “mitigate” our own emissions likely will be a waste of time and effort.
    Much more effective efforts would be in scrubbers…but those don’t fit in with liberal and green philosophy because scrubbing carbon gives us the ability to use it to make more fuels thereby recycling atmospheric carbon and the fuels made with the scrubbed carbon would be fuels currently in use. Think gasoline…hence the philosophical issues with liberals and greens.

    But it is the most potentially effective manner to take carbon out of the atmosphere and make ready to deal with the carbon in the permafrost….so mitigation? Or recycling….I know what I think.

  15. Rincon says:

    “But there is no consensus as to what source for Co2 is the biggest offender…for instance permafrost easily holds far more Co2 than anything human activity is doing.”

    So far as I can find, there are almost no skeptics about this basic piece of information. Humans are responsible for all or nearly all of the excess CO2.

    We have two independent ways of knowing that humans are responsible for essentially all of the excess carbon dioxide. The first is the change in the carbon 14 content of atmospheric CO2 over time. Carbon from fossil fuels has almost zero carbon 14 because it decayed while sitting under ground, so it can readily be differentiated from the normal atmospheric carbon. The second is that we know with reasonable accuracy how much CO2 humans have put into the atmosphere because we have good records regarding the sale of fossil fuels. Turns out that we have put in far more than the excess we find in the atmosphere. In fact, for several years, researchers were trying to figure out where the excess went. The answer, as was expected, was into the oceans and the minerals in the ground.

    So far as I am aware, the primary greenhouse gas released from melting permafrost is methane. Carbon dioxide release is expected to be minor because the anaerobic conditions underground don’t allow much CO2 production and too little has melted so far to make any substantial difference. You are right about one thing though. If the permafrost melts in a big way, all hell will break loose. Suddenly your idea of adapting doesn’t look so smart. But wait! We don’t have a precise number for the amount of carbon contained in the permafrost. With your previous logic, the problem does not exist if we cannot precisely measure it. Party on!

  16. Steve says:

    OK so, still no consensus of scientists, you keep offering lots of words and the occasional study but still no consensus of scientists who say human activity is THE ONE cause or even any idea of what portion of the cause might be.
    Still NO consensus on this.
    If those ways were so simple to use, there WOULD be such a consensus….so where are the scientists?
    But you guys really are involved in your dogma inspired wordy responses.

    Adaption is the key, the alternative “mitigation” is certain failure, based on your own response.

  17. Rincon says:

    There is no lack of consensus. The scientist largely agree on what we know, what we don’t know and the liklihood that human produced greenhouse gases will create major problems in the future. The only lack is in the ability of humans to precisely quantify every complex natural process. Your position is like someone who refuses to check weather reports because the weather bureau cannot precisely predict every rain shower.

  18. Steve says:

    No my query is simple.
    There is a consensus of scientists about climate change. The President says so, all the politicians actually agree on that. The climate is changing. It has always changed and will always change.
    No argument there.
    Human activity is an element of the factors driving climate change. No issue there, this is a fact and there is consensus on that too, 97% in fact.

    The issue is what degree does human activity have in forcing climate change.

    On that point, there is no consensus and you have typed many words but still have no consensus to cite.

    It’s a simple query, find a consensus of scientists who agree on some percentage for the effect human activity is having on the change in climate.

    One or two studies is not a consensus, wordy responses don’t show a consensus.

    The fact is, there is no consensus on this point because climate scientists have not done any research in these lines and do not have enough information to back up your (politically motivated) claims.

  19. The models appear to assume a straight line correlation between temps and carbon output, but there may be a curve or even a saturation point.

  20. Steve says:

    assume

    A scientific tool?

  21. Steve says:

    The IPCC supports me.

    “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/505.htm

  22. Rincon says:

    Of course it’s impossible to predict future climate states. That’s what I’ve been saying all along. That also means that it’s impossible for you to claim that man made warming is not significant. It’s also impossible to predict whether you or I will get in a car accident tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from wearing my seat belt. What we can do is assess risk. You choose to ignore that completely in your recommendation for inaction. In your state of mind, it makes no difference what the evidence is because it can never meet your unrealistic demands.

    For what it’s worth, the climate models don’t assume a straight line correlation between carbon output and temperature, although the planet Venus demonstrates that there is essentially no upper limit to the greenhouse effect. CO2 is only one of several major greenhouse gases, including the primary one, water vapor. These other gases are included in all of the models. Some of the other variables in the computer models include planetary albedo, cloud formation and changes in the water cycle due to greater evaporation, CO2 uptake by the ground, oceans and plant life, sequestering of heat by vertical ocean currents, release of vast quantities of methane from permafrost, release of methane from oceanic methyl hydrates, future changes in human release of greenhouse gases and variations in the Sun’s output. I might have missed a couple, but you get the idea. These variables are the primary reason that the models don’t agree perfectly.

    I’m still waiting for the skeptics to come up with a model showing the human induced component of warming to be minimal. Easier to just take pot shots at the real scientists, I suppose.

  23. Steve says:

    “That also means that it’s impossible for you to claim that man made warming is not significant. ”

    I never said that. I asked for the consensus of scientists who say what part of the forcing is attributable to human activity.

    Autos and climate…really…. Seat belts or economic effects….again you go for the apples and oranges.

    “your recommendation for inaction.”
    I AGAIN refer you to scrubbing see carbonengineering.com

    Since you insist on starting from a false set of conclusions and outright ignoring the things I have made very clear, the rest of your wordy effort to claim there is a consensus where one does not exist remains moot.
    I ask again,
    show a consensus of scientists who state to what degree or percentage of effect human activity is having on the climate. I don’t care how small or large they say it is, I want you to find that consensus. That consensus is the only thing that has a chance of supporting your claims.
    I’ve looked, it doesn’t exist. Reading the IPCC reports I find they are chock full of disclaimers and indications the data is far from usable for much more than indicating what MAY happen and even then they include serious disclaimers.

    Scrubbing removes Co2, mitigation LEAVES it in place…even as more is added from natural sources.
    Scrubbing provides us with a usable resource that ultimately makes fossil fuels fully recyclable while removing as much Co2 from the atmosphere as we would want, resulting in a balanced mix of gasses which (if your, consensus lacking, words have any basis in scientific fact) will stop the climate changing within years rather than centuries.
    In truth, “mitigation” will take centuries to have any effect and is economically dangerous while scrubbing has real potential for economic growth while achieving the goal of worldwide negative Co2 footprint in a very short period of time.
    If Co2 IS THE problem, scrubbing IS THE answer.

  24. Rincon says:

    The consensus, as I’ve stated: More than half of the observed warming. I listed several sources and could list a hundred more if needed.
    Are you claiming that we can party now and then remove the atmospheric CO2 if and when we find out that it’s necessary? If so or even if not, show me a consensus that says scrubbing would be cost effective

  25. Steve says:

    Observed warming is NOT at issue, I still say they do not say what amount of that warming is due to human activity and you still haven’t shown any such consensus.

    Stop being obstinate and follow the link to http://www.carbonengineering.com !
    Then READ what they are doing and what they are proposing.

    It is YOU who are insisting on doing the equivalent of nothing, Rincon. “Mitigation” is exactly that because it will not happen and cannot be forced to happen. So called carbon trading only shifts the blame, it also does nothing to slow or even halt the output, let alone have a snowballs chance in hell of resulting in a carbon negative footprint.

    IF Co2 is THE problem, THEN scrubbing is THE answer.

  26. Rincon says:

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Show me a consensus that CO2 scrubbing on a mass scale is economically sound.

    I also note that you didn’t answer my question. Is that a sign of submission or just a lack of respect?

  27. Steve says:

    Rincon tries a sham tactic.

    Big difference,unlike you peeps, I do not claim there IS such a consensus.

  28. Rincon says:

    I note that you 1) Fail to show a consensus re: CO2 scrubbing, 2) Have still been unable to come up with a shred of evidence suggesting the observed warming is natural. You can’t even find a decent hypothesis with a consensus behind it. 3) You constantly throw a label onto peoples’ arguments such as shammy and reducto ad absurdum when you can’t come up with a real reply. You then fail to define your terms (what the hell is a sham tactic anyway?) or when I point out that reducto ad absurdum is a legitimate argument, you merely ignore your mistake. 4) You still haven’t answered my question. 5) You will not recognize that when vast majorities of scientists and organizations claim that humans are responsible for the majority of the observed warming, it’s properly termed a consensus. You apparently have your own private definition for the word.

    On that basis, I can’t really call this a discussion. It’s more of a game. You win.

  29. Steve says:

    “Fail to show a consensus re: CO2 scrubbing” I NEVER tried to claim one exists.

    “observed warming is natural” Red herring, since you CANNOT show any consensus to the opposite, you try to show it cannot be shown to be natural, thereby PROVING ME RIGHT!

    The rest of your diatribe is a total sham!

    laugh

  30. Rincon says:

    Fine. You win.

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