Editorial: Question 6 would cost money and provide no benefits

Current Nevada law requires 25 percent of the state’s electric power to come from renewable energy sources — such as solar, wind and geothermal — by 2025, but Question 6 on the November ballot asks voters to raise the requirement to 50 percent by 2030.

The initiative claims this will reduce the state’s reliance on fossil-fuel power plants and clean up the air.

But recent reports out of Europe note that carbon emission actually grew by 1.8 percent in 2017 despite a 25 percent increase in wind power and 6 percent growth in solar. Part of this is explained by the fact idling fossil fuel plants must be quickly brought online when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, and, just like cars in traffic, idling engines produce more carbon emissions. Also, maintaining both power sources increases infrastructure costs. The cost of electricity in Europe has increased 23 percent in the past decade.

So, Europeans are paying more and getting no emission decrease.

Nevada is already getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewables as each year the requirement ratchets up toward the current 25 percent goal, while over the past five years the cost per kilowatt-hour of power across all sectors has increased 11 percent in Nevada, though nationally rates fell 1 percent, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, carbon emissions due to power generation have largely flatlined, according to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

Arizona also has on the ballot a proposal to increase renewables to 50 percent by 2030. Both measures are being bankrolled by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer.

Heartland Institute analyst James Taylor took a look at what impact the Arizona proposal would have on electricity bills there if the initiative passes. Taylor estimated that Arizona’s current 7 percent renewable power costs consumers $304 a year in higher rates and extrapolated that the 50 percent requirement could increase bills by more than $2,000 a year.

In 2013 Nevada Policy Research Institute commissioned Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University to analyze the impact of the current 25 percent renewable power portfolio (RPS) requirement. The report was titled “RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline.”

Using a range of estimates from low to high, Beacon Hill estimated power bills could increase anywhere from less than 2 percent to nearly 11 percent. That high end estimate has been reached seven years early.

The study also said the 25 percent standard could cost Nevada between 590 and 3,070 jobs by 2025. Image the impact in doubling renewables in the next five years.

But those costs are outweighed when you calculate all the pollutants and greenhouse gases that won’t be poured into the air and cause the planet to overheat, some still argue.

“One could justify the higher electricity costs if the environmental benefits — in terms of reduced greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other emissions — outweighed the costs,” Beacon Hill reports. “However, it is unclear that the use of renewable energy resources — especially wind and solar — significantly reduces GHG emissions. Due to their intermittency, wind and solar require significant conventional backup power sources that are cycled up and down to accommodate the variability in the production of wind and solar power. A 2010 study found that wind power actually increases pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, there appear to be few, if any, benefits to implementing RPS policies based on heavy uses of wind.”

Since Question 6 will likely cost Nevadans money and jobs while producing no discernible benefit, we encourage a no vote this November.

A version of this editorial appeared this 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.

BLM pix


Ratcheting up renewable energy requirement will cost jobs, not create them

When the global warming alarmists set a goal for the amount of renewable energy Nevada must produce and the state successfully achieves that goal, it is not a sign of success. It is a sure sign the goal — gosh darn it — just wasn’t high enough.

For eight straight years NV Energy has met the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that ratchets up each year until it reaches 25 percent for 2025. It is currently 20 percent.

A sign of success?

No. According to Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, that just means the goal was too low.

Solar panels

“NV Energy’s announcement demonstrates its commitment to expanding utility scale solar energy. Reaching their goal also makes clear that it’s time for Nevada to raise its Renewable Portfolio Standard to the next level, providing companies the certainty they need to invest, which will bring even more solar jobs to the state. Nevada residents will have their say on the ballot in November, and we strongly encourage them to vote to raise the state goal to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030,” Gallagher is quoted as saying in a press release.

To that end a group calling itself Nevadans for a Clean Energy Future is pushing a ballot initiative that would increase the RPS 50 percent by 2030. They have until the second week in June to collect 110,000 signatures to get it on the ballot in November.

Supporters talk about how many renewable energy jobs will be created.

But a study commissioned by Nevada Policy Research Institute and conducted by Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University found the current RPS is already costing Nevada jobs. Imagine what a doubling will do?

The report is titled RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline. Using a range of estimates from low to high, Beacon Hill estimates the current RPS could cost Nevada between 590 and 3,070 jobs by 2025. This is because power bills would increase from less than 2 percent to nearly 11 percent due to the RPS.

While the residential power user’s bill might increase anywhere between $20 and $130 a year, an industrial ratepayer could expect power bills to increase from nearly $7,000 to more than $47,000 a year.

“One could justify the higher electricity costs if the environmental benefits — in terms of reduced greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other emissions — outweighed the costs,” Beacon Hill reports. “However, it is unclear that the use of renewable energy resources — especially wind and solar — significantly reduces GHG emissions. Due to their intermittency, wind and solar require significant conventional backup power sources that are cycled up and down to accommodate the variability in the production of wind and solar power. A 2010 study found that wind power actually increases pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Thus, there appear to be few, if any, benefits to implementing RPS policies based on heavy uses of wind.”

But never let the facts get in the way of a global warming alarmist.


Is the solar energy bubble about to burst?

SolarCity workers install rooftop panels. (R-J photo)

A week ago Obama came to Las Vegas for Harry Reid’s traveling planet salvation show and choir singing to proclaim, “Solar isn’t just for the green crowd anymore — it’s for the green eyeshade crowd, too.”

On the day after his administration announced $11 billion in new loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, Obama was claiming that renewable energy was competitive in the marketplace. If so, why did he announce all those loan guarantees?

Today The Wall Street Journal has an editorial under the headline “Big Solar’s Subsidy Bubble: Companies cash in on tax credits and ‘net-metering’ schemes.”

It points out that solar panel installers are making a big push partly because panel prices have fallen but mostly because in December 2016 the federal 30 percent tax credit falls to 10 percent and numerous states, including Nevada are rethinking generous net-metering programs, which will make solar difficult to produce a return on investment.

Of particular concern are solar leasing companies, such as SolarCity, which got a $1.2 million taxpayer handout to open an office in Las Vegas and compete with existing taxpaying solar installers.

“Here’s how this dubious business works,” the editorial states. “Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems (which often cost tens of thousands of dollars) at no upfront consumer cost. Homeowners rent the panels for 20 years at rates that typically escalate over time but are initially cheaper than power from the grid. Investors get to pocket the myriad state and federal subsidies while homeowners are promised hundreds of dollars annually in savings on their electric bills.”

The catch, according to WSJ, is that the teaser rates could increase if government subsidies are reduced.

Several members of Congress this past year asked the Federal Trade Commission to keep an eye on solar leasers who might be using “deceptive marketing strategies that overstate the savings” and “understating the risks.” (Never mind that solar leasing companies can put a lien on the house.)

NV Energy currently has a requested pending before the PUC that would cut the amount of credit for solar power uploaded to the grid from rooftop panels from 11.6 cents to 5.5 cents, a rate that could result in solar panel users paying more for electricity — when capital cost is included — than those without solar panels.

The WSJ editorial concludes with this pithy remark: “What does it say that the President is using his bully pulpit to abet an industry that is essentially fleecing the American public?”


Editorial: Innovation is better solution for energy supply than regulation

Couric and Fiorina on Yahoo! News

The left never lets the facts get in the way of a good harangue or the profits of their cronies in the renewable energy business. The well-being of the citizens and communities be damned.

For example, in 2009, after a three-year battle with Sen. Harry Reid, NV Energy acquiesced to the senator’s pressure and canceled plans to build a $5 billion coal-fired power plant near Ely that would have created 1,600 jobs during construction and 200 permanent jobs upon completion.

Instead, the Ely area got a wind project whose German-made turbines promptly killed a few golden eagles as well as other birds and bats. The wind farm created about a dozen permanent jobs and sells power to NV Energy at about twice the price that the coal plant would have. That is, when it produces electricity.

The latest Energy Information Administration report said the plant produced power only 18.8 percent of the time.

Another company, with Reid’s blessing still plans to put up wind turbines in Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, now that Reid has moved to Henderson. The company recently got a two-year extension on its application.

The major rationale for the tax breaks and subsidies and cheap public land for wind and solar projects is that it will save the planet from global warming because carbon is a greenhouse gas — even though satellites have detected no global warming for more than two decades.

One Republican presidential candidate provided a refreshing alternative to the constant drumbeat by Reid and Obama about climate change.

In an interview with Katie Couric on Yahoo! News earlier this summer, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said,“So every one of the scientists that tell us climate change is real and being caused by manmade activity, also tell us that a single nation acting alone can make no difference at all. So when I see a state like California destroy lives and livelihoods with environmental regulation that will make no difference at all to climate change, when I see the Obama administration take that same regulation and apply it nationally, it will make no difference at all. And yet we are destroying people’s lives and livelihoods. I wonder why are we doing this? Why are we doing this when it won’t have any impact. So I think the answer to this problem is innovation not regulation.”

She could as easily have singled out Nevada, because the Silver State, like the Golden State, is awash in deals for solar and wind projects, including a renewable portfolio standard that requires a quarter of all power in the state to come from renewables by 2025.

Nevada opts for regulation, not innovation in clean-coal technology, despite the fact the U.S. has enough cheap coal to last 300 years.

“But I must say it angers me when liberals say I’m prepared for you to lose your job in the name of sending a signal, to whom?” Fiorina continued. “In fact China could care less. In fact China is delighted that we are not spending any time or energy figuring out clean coal because they’re going to go do it.

“We have to focus on how to make coal cleaner. Look, coal provides half the energy in this nation still, not to mention around the world. So to say we’re going to basically outlaw coal, which is what this administration has done, is so self-defeating. It destroys jobs. It destroys communities. It’s not helping us and it’s not helping global warming.”

She went on to say there is no perfect solution, noting that turbines kill birds and solar plants require huge amounts of water.

“I think it is, frankly, ridiculous for the Obama administration to call ISIS a strategic distraction and then go to say that climate change is the single most pressing national security issue of our time. That’s hyperbole,” the candidate reasoned. “I think a far more serious issue right now is the fact that our government is a vast, bloated, unaccountable, corrupt bureaucracy.”

Nevada is an early caucus state and there are a lot of candidates in both parties to evaluate.

We recommend you keep an eye on Fiorina, who everyone said won the so-called Happy Hour debate, because her energy policy is the polar opposite of Reid’s, which makes it right for Nevada.

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, the Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Harry still preaching the gospel of clean energy, while others speak heresies

Backyard solar panels

Backyard solar panels

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid told a clean-energy luncheon crowd Friday that renewable energy has been a boon to the state’s economy and jobs.

He claimed the industry has invested $6 billion in the state and created 20,000 jobs, according to the Las Vegas newspaper.

Of course, he did not bother to note that historically for every renewable energy job created two to four jobs are destroyed because of the high cost of renewable power. Also, every dollar “invested” in renewable energy, usually through tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies, is a dollar not invested in some other industry.

Harry Reid speaks at a renewable energy luncheon. (R-J photo)

He also took the time to lambaste the Review-Journal’s editorial board for writing “the most moronic editorials” arguing clean energy wasn’t a good investment and said it is upsetting that  “the state’s largest newspaper has done everything it could to rain on the opportunities.”

Was it something I said?

Reid was one of the champions of the state requiring a certain percentage of its electricity come from renewables — 25 percent by 2015. He also pushed Senate Bill 123 in the previous Legislature that requires NV Energy to shut down its coal-fired power plants and build more expensive renewable power facilities.

A recently released study by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University for the Nevada Policy Research Institute found SB123 will destroy 2,630 jobs by 2020 and real disposable income will decline by $226 million per year due to increased electricity cost.

Meanwhile, in the Sun section delivered with the morning paper there is a three-day old story about how NV Energy is bristling over rooftop solar panel installations cutting into its bottom line due to net metering, under which customers return excess power to NV Energy at retail rather than wholesale rates per kWh.

The Sun also points out that there is a cap on how many Nevadans can participate in net metering and that cap is expected to be reached this year — “halting rooftop installations and blocking renewable energy from entering the grid.”

One of the companies installing those rooftop solar panels is SolarCity, which opened operations in Nevada after the state handed it a $1.2 million taxpayer subsidy. Will it close shop when the cap is hit?

As I pointed out, a couple of years ago, we are seeing the Bootleggers and Baptists Theory in practice. Moral opposites combine forces to achieve an objective that serves both well. For example, Baptists demanded alcohol prohibition to protect the poor drunkards from themselves, while the bootlegger wanted prohibition so they could stay in business and not face competition from legal sales, as well as charge higher prices.

Now, one group claims to want clean air to save the planet, while the other doesn’t want to compete in the free market for capital and with competitive electrical rates.

The bootleggers are having a falling out. NV Energy doesn’t mind building its own wind turbines and solar farms, because it gets a return on its equity of about 10 percent when it builds stuff. The company doesn’t like paying retail for subsidized/tax break driven rooftop solar panels.

Also, the renewable backers never calculate the cost associated with intermittent renewables such as wind turbines and solar panels, which must be backed up kWh per kWh by the capital and operating cost of maintaining a fossil fuel-fired generator for when the wind dies down or a cloud passes overhead.

Nor do people like Reid ever mention the pollutants and toxins released in the manufacturing of turbines and panels, nor the cost of tearing them down when they wear out and must be dumped in a landfill.

That would be moronic.




Sprechen sie Deutsch? — It translates as a ‘green’ energy boondoggle

When the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 123, everyone was so thrilled about shutting down all that dirty coal-fired power plants and building millions of dollars worth of bright new clean energy solar and wind farms.

Perhaps, they should’ve asked the German electricity customers how saving the planet is working out for them.

According to Der Spiegel, Germans this year will be forced to pay $26 billion for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just more than $4 billion. 

And about that saving the planet, the magazine notes:

“On the other hand, when the wind suddenly stops blowing, and in particular during the cold season, supply becomes scarce. That’s when heavy oil and coal power plants have to be fired up to close the gap, which is why Germany’s energy producers in 2012 actually released more climate-damaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than in 2011.”

Soon the average three-person household in Germany will be paying about $120 a month for electricity, twice the price in 2000 and with two-thirds of the increase due to new government fees, surcharges and taxes. “But despite those price hikes, government pensions and social welfare payments have not been adjusted,” Der Spiegel says. “As a result, every new fee becomes a threat to low-income consumers.”

And if the solar and wind policy continues in place, the story says, electricity in 2020 will cost more than 50 cents per kilowatt-hour, up 40 percent from today’s price. Nevada residential customers currently pay less than 12 cents per kWh, but with SB123 in place don’t expect that to last long.

Wind turbines off the North Sea island of Borkum are currently rotating without being connected to the grid. The connection cable will probably not be finished until next year. In the meantime, the turbines are being run with diesel fuel to prevent them from rusting. (DPA photo)

Newspaper column: Documentary asks why desert must be destroyed to save the planet

The theme of Robert Lundahl’s documentary film “Who Are My People,” which had its Nevada premiere earlier this month, is that it makes no sense to destroy the desert in order to try to save the planet from global warming.

Lundahl, who grew up in the desert Southwest, sees something wrong with proposals to literally pave over hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine desert, mostly federal public land — which has been home to Native Americans and countless species of wildlife for thousands of years — with solar panels, solar mirrors and windmills, which in 25 years will be so much hazardous waste to be abandoned or hauled off, further scarring the landscape.

Photovoltaic array near Boulder City

As reported in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press, the hour-long film is a pastiche of desert scenes and running commentary from archeologists and scientists, as well as tribal leaders who point to various sacred sites that could be destroyed or despoiled by the industrial-scale “green energy” projects.

“Ultimately it’s simple,” says Lundahl, who describes himself as an environmentalist and is an advocate of roof-top distributive solar panels, “you can’t destroy things to ‘go green,’ and that includes the traditional practices and life-ways of Native American communities who were here long before the United States was even an idea, and the environment and traditional, indigenous landscapes which support those communities. You can’t have ‘green’ without social justice.”

But the Interior Department has already set aside 285,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in six states — including 60,395 acres in Nevada — where permitting for utility-scale solar projects will be streamlined. Perhaps railroaded is a better term.

The Nevada land alone has the potential to generate 6,700 megawatts of power, in 2012 NV Energy had a peak generating capacity of only 6,000 megawatts. Just who needs all that new power is a question not being asked by anyone.

If you or I were to dig up a single Joshua tree or pick up a desert tortoise, even to move it out of harm’s way, we would be subject to serious fines.

But “green” projects rip up thousands of Joshua trees, agave, sagebrush, several varieties of cactus and assorted weeds and flowers, which provide food and shelter for tortoises, snakes, lizards, rabbits, coyotes, wild sheep, rats, mice, roadrunners, grouse, ravens, quail, jays, hummingbirds and much more. They also grade up the desert patina and leave the disturbed earth subject to massive and blinding dust storms.

Lundahl hopes eventually to air his documentary on public television and perhaps screen it in desert communities.

Read the entire column at Ely or Elko.