It’s easy to be green, just wish it so and ignore the facts

If you thought the “green movement” was more about self-righteous politics than clear-headed science, here are two  tales that prove the point.

In Arizona a petition is being circulated in an effort get on the ballot an initiative called the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment. This would require 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state to come from renewable sources by 2030.

The petition states:

The Amendment defines renewable energy sources to include solar, wind, small-scale hydropower, and other sources that are replaced rapidly by a natural, ongoing process (excluding nuclear or fossil fuel). Distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar, must comprise at least 10% of utilities’ annual retail sales of electricity by 2030.

If the measure passes it would necessitate the closure the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix, which currently provides about 35 percent of the state’s electricity, even though it produces no carbon emissions.

If the state were to achieve the goal of 50 percent of its power coming from mostly solar and wind, both of which are intermittent there would be no room on the grid for Palo Verde’s power, because reactors can’t be quickly turned off and on — it takes weeks of preparation.

“We would have to shut Palo Verde down during the day every day,” one plant official was quoted as saying. “But that’s not how nuclear plants really work. Nuclear plants can’t just be shut down and then started up again.”

Since battery technology is not yet available, the most likely source of rapid start-up generation would be natural gas, which produces carbon emissions, especially when frequently idling.

Adding wind and solar to the power grid could increase the carbon dioxide output.

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.

Starting and stopping gas-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.

Meanwhile, in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to build $6 billion worth of offshore wind turbines while shutting down the nuclear-powered Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y.

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, explains in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that the wind turbines will produce only 60 percent as much power as the nuclear plant being closed.

How will this gap be covered? You guessed it, natural gas.

“The irony here is colossal. Mr. Cuomo, who banned hydraulic fracturing despite the economic boon it has created in neighboring Pennsylvania, and who has repeatedly blocked construction of pipelines, is making New York even more dependent on natural gas, which will increase its carbon emissions,” Bryce writes. “At the same time, he has mandated offshore wind projects that will force New Yorkers to pay more for their electricity, even though the state already has some of the nation’s highest electricity prices.”

Being green is a state of mind … or should we say mindlessness?

Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., in 2017. (AP pix via WSJ)

Does NV Energy think its customers are this gullible?

Can I get all my power from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant in Moapa? (Photo by Kent Harper)

Here is the lede on an Associated Press story posted on several television station websites in northern Nevada:

“Northern Nevada customers of the state’s largest utility now have the option of getting all their electricity from renewable sources.”

The story goes on to say NV Energy has announced that customers can opt to get 50 percent or 100 percent of their electricity from renewable resources, though sadly this planet saving service is not yet available in southern Nevada.

But this “green” program will cost you some green because green energy costs more to generate. The AP tells us a typical residential customer using 746 kWh a month will have to pay an additional $15.70 a month to get half of the home’s power from renewables, while 100 percent will cost $31.40 more.

It turns out those new smart meters must be really, really smart. If a power line runs down my street, and I participate in this green program but my neighbor doesn’t, how does it know which clean electrons to deliver to my house and which dirty ones to deliver to my neighbor.

Will NV Energy come up with a billing system in which I can opt to buy only cheaper power from coal-fired plants while they last?

A press release on the NV Energy website perpetrates this hoax further.

“Many customers, big and small, have expressed an interest in buying more renewable energy. This gives them a new way to do that. This option will be especially helpful for those who want to be greener, but did not have easy options that suited their circumstances, such as renters and students. This new program is as simple as going to the NV Energy website and signing up,” declares Bobby Hollis, the executive in charge of NV Energy’s renewable energy programs with an apparently straight face.

The upcharge amounts to an additional 4.2 cents per kWh.

The press release then switches from saying customers would be “buying” green energy to saying they would be “investing” in it — perhaps a bit more accurate term. NV Energy’s current green energy mix in northern Nevada is 85 percent geothermal, 10 percent solar and 5 percent hydroelectric energy. The company was required to “invest” in this green power by law.

The press release continues:

“Hollis said that customers who select one of the NV Green Energy options will be helping develop new renewable energy projects in Nevada sooner than would occur if renewable energy was only being used to meet the minimum requirements of Nevada’s renewable energy law. At present, 18 percent of the electricity produced in Nevada is required to come from renewable energy. Nevada law requires that 25 percent of the total must be from renewable energy sources by 2025.  Renewable energy purchased by customers participating in the NV Green Energy rate will add to that amount and require more renewable energy use in Nevada.”

So if you would like to make a donation to NV Energy’s future owner, Warren Buffett, go to NV Green Energy Choice and sign up.

Study: Renewable energy requirement will cost Nevada money and jobs

A new analysis unsurprisingly reports — as has been found in every other state — that the legislative mandate for renewable electricity capacity will cost Nevadans money and jobs.

The analysis is based on the current law that requires NV Energy to obtain 25 percent of its power from “green” sources — such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydropower — by 2025, otherwise known as the renewable portfolio standard or RPS.

But Senate Bill 252 (SB_252_with_Amendments), which is being amended every time someone touches it, could make things even worse by tightening the requirement for expensive renewable energy. It first proposed to raise the RPS to 35 percent, but has been amended back to 25 percent. It first sought to eliminate efficiency efforts as a means of compliance, but apparently that is now being phased out, along with a multiplier giving double credit for solar power generation. It is hard to tell what the bill says because it looks like an explosion in a paint factory, with lines crossed out and underlined in various colors.

Reid Gardner plant would close early. (Sun photo)

Nevada Policy Research Institute commissioned Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University, which has performed similar analyses in several other states, including Oregon with a similar RPS, to look at Nevada’s RPS requirement. The report is titled RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline. Fortunately, due to the state’s unique access to geothermal sources, one of the cheapest “green” generation sources, Nevada is not as bad off as other states.

One of the big selling points touted by Sen. Harry Reid and other “green” energy cronies is “green” jobs. But seldom do they weigh those new jobs against the jobs lost due to the higher cost of electricity. 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 — that’s better than the average salary in Nevada.

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 will 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.”

The bottom line, according to the analysis, is higher power costs will make Nevada less competitive and drive away potential job creating businesses without doing anything whatsoever to reduce global emissions.

Strangely enough, there is no appetite at the Legislature to simply repeal the RPS, not even among fiscal conservatives.

Add in the cost for NV Energy to shut down its coal-fired power plants early, as NVisioned in Senate Bill 123, and the costs just keep on mounting.

Nevada lawmakers twiddle their thumbs, while in other states renewable power portfolio standards are being challenged

Nevada is one of 29 states with electricity market central planning from the Legislature that demands a certain percentage of all electricity consumed in the state come from so-called “green” sources such as solar, wind, biomaas and geothermal. This is called a renewable portfolio standard.

Lawmakers in 22 states of those states are fighting to reduce or repeal their RPS because it increases power bills, while in Nevada not a single legislator has had the temerity to even suggest such a thing for the sake of ratepayers. Nay, our Legislature is considering a law to increase the RPS from 25 percent by 2025 to 35 percent — the highest in the continental U.S. I’ve asked my state senator and assemblyman, and they have demurred.

Spring Valley Wind project near Ely. (Photo via R-J courtesy of Pattern Energy)

According to Herman Trabish, reporting at GreentechMedia, an obviously pro renewable website, ”

At least twenty-two of the 29 state renewables standards have been attacked by legislators or regulators in the last year or are now under attack.”

He goes on to low-ball the impact on consumers of this market manipulation, claiming, “

Research shows they add less than 5 percent, on average, to the cost of electricity bills and are an effective driver of renewables growth.”

Not only are lawmakers growing spines and challenging the “green” lobbyists, Trabish reports, in Colorado a 2011 federal lawsuit challenges renewable standards everywhere on the grounds they violate the Commerce Clause “

and should be voided because it discriminates against out-of-state coal-fired electricity.”

“The renewable energy standard creates a barrier to interstate commerce that’s impermissible under the Constitution — only Congress can regulate interstate commerce,” the Denver Business Journal quotes Kent Holsinger, the Denver attorney on the lawsuit, as saying. “Colorado said 30 percent of electricity that’s used in Colorado must be from these so-called renewable sources. That discriminates against other sources of electricity in and outside the state. The standard also creates a preference for renewable sources inside the state. We believe that’s a facial violation of the clause.”

Meanwhile, Nevada’s largest newspaper is reporting that Nevada’s first utility-scale wind farm could face up to a $200,000 fine because it does not have a federal “take” permit that would allow its turbines to kill golden or bald eagles up to a certain number. A dead golden eagle was found at the wind farm this past month.

The R-J story makes no mention of the fact that dead eagles at wind farms result in lengthy investigations, while dead migratory birds of any feather found at oil and mining sites can result in a quick indictment.