Did Reid threaten the electric utility industry?

Soon NV Energy President Paul Caudill will take the stage at Reid’s clean energy confab.

I wonder if he listened to Reid’s opening monologue?

Here is clip from that speech as posted online by his personal newsletter:

I look forward to President Obama outlining his Clean Power Plan, which will be the strongest action ever taken by our country to curb climate change and boost clean energy. But notwithstanding all of the progress we have made over the last decade, we still have many miles to travel before we sleep. In fact, in many respects, we are still stuck in the 19th century.

In 1882, more than a century before we gathered for the first National Clean Energy Summit, Thomas Edison was busy inventing the first electricity grid. Edison’s grid was improved by George Westinghouse in 1886 – an electric grid that is remarkably similar to ours today. Consider that – the grid technology that utility companies rely on is older than the Model T Ford.

This grid system makes money for utilities by generating electricity at central plants and delivering that power to customers through power lines. Costs for the infrastructure are paid by all customers based on how much power they consume – the more electricity we use, the more we pay. This utility business model made sense for many decades.

But electric utilities never imagined that families and businesses would be able to generate energy for the same price as utility power plants. They didn’t consider that consumers would rather pay to make their homes more efficient than pay for power they don’t need. And they didn’t expect Americans would grow to believe that reducing climate-changing carbon pollution is a priority.

Our electric grid has barely changed in a century, but that is quickly coming to an end. American demand for clean, reliable power choices is forcing change that is accelerating.

Harry Reid opening speech at clean energy confab. (Sun photo)

Just what we need, more tax subsidized and expensive ‘green’ energy

The new president of NV Energy, Paul Caudill, told the Elko Daily Free Press recently that the new 235-mile, $550 million, 500-kilovolt transmission line from Ely to Apex — One Nevada or ON Line — will enable the company to use more renewable energy —  geothermal, solar and potentially wind power.

Caudill, who became president in December, has a background in renewables. He was president of MidAmerican Solar, as well as CEO and president of Phoenix Solar U.S. and vice president at SunPower Corporation.

Wind turbines in Spring Valley near Ely.

“I think possibly in the next five years, there would be more solar and geothermal …” Caudill told the Free Press. “We’ve made a huge commitment to renewable energy.”

And why not? The company passes on any costs to its customers.

While Caudill was touting green energy, Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, penned an op-ed for the Las Vegas newspaper saying green energy is a job killer:

“According to a comprehensive study recently released by a team of Spanish academics, each new green job costs the rest of the economy 2.2 other jobs because of the necessary subsidies. More damning is the study’s finding that each green megawatt of energy destroys an average of more than five jobs, with each solar-powered megawatt eliminating nearly nine jobs and each wind-powered megawatt costing more than four jobs.

“These perverse trade-offs can be laid at the feet of government energy subsidies. Whether it’s $150 or $150 billion, the government’s financial intervention distorts the economy by shifting investment from proven job creators to expensive experiments that — as Solyndra and others demonstrate — don’t always pan out.”

Perhaps, one of the reasons Caudill said wind power “potentially” is that, as Pyle notes, Congress has yet to renew the Wind Production Tax Credit, a taxpayer-funded subsidy that covers 50 to 75 percent of wind energy’s wholesale costs. Taxpayers pay up front, then ratepayers pay also because of higher power costs and the necessity of building fossil fuel power plants to kick in when the wind dies down. There is a move in Congress to renew the tax credit for wind.

Apparently the green fiasco in Europe has taught us little. European industries pay three to four times more for  natural gas, and over twice as much for electricity as American companies, according to The Economist.

The new German economic minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has said green energy mandates are leading to a “deindustrialization” of Germany, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

But what is really perverse is that all that green energy is not accomplishing its goal of reducing carbon output and saving the planet from global warming.

Retired electrical engineer Kent Hawkins wrote in February 2010 that “the introduction of wind power into an electricity system increases the fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions beyond levels that would have occurred using efficient gas plants alone as the providers of electricity equivalent to the firmed wind.”

This is because every kilowatt-hour of intermittent electricity introduced into the grid must be backed up by a reliable fossil-fuel generator. When the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine, the demand for electricity remains. There is no known means of storing electricity in a reservoir like water.

But starting and stopping gas-, coal- or oil-fired generators is inefficient, comparable to operating a car in stop and go traffic instead of steady and efficient on the open highway. Just like the car, the fuel consumption can double, along with the carbon emissions, negating any presumed carbon savings by using solar or wind.