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

 

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.

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.

They want to give your money to their renewable energy buddies

Once Crescent Dunes Solar project near Tonopah is complete, it has a contract to sell power to NV Energy for 13.5 cents per kWh. Gas-fired plants can produced electricity for about 3 cents per kWh.

Once Crescent Dunes Solar project near Tonopah is complete, it has a contract to sell power to NV Energy for 13.5 cents per kWh. Gas-fired plants can produce electricity for about 3 cents per kWh.

It doesn’t get any more blatant than this.

I’ve already mentioned that Senate Bill 252 — immaculately conceived in the Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy in Carson City without traceable parentage — would jack up the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to one of the highest in the nation, from 25 percent by 2025 to 35 percent, but it also would change the rules of the game in the seventh inning.

The bill would amend NRS 704 to delete 33 mentions of energy “efficiency” — reducing energy consumption — as a means of complying with the legislatively mandated RPS.

The cleanest kilowatt of electricity is the one never used. Yet SB252 would eliminate this as a means for reducing carbon output.

Actually, the bill never states just what its purpose is. Nowhere does it mention greenhouse gases, carbon output, climate change or global warming. It simply demands more electricity must come from renewable sources. No explanation nor rationale offered, just do it by damn.

Not only does it eliminate “efficiency” as a means of meeting the RPS, it changes the rules for NV Energy’s compliance. Under current law, the power company can carry over to the next year any excess kilowatt-hours in renewables. For example, under current law, NV Energy is required during the calendar year 2013 to obtain 18 percent of its power from so-called “green” energy sources. If it obtained 20 percent from renewables, it could use the extra 2 percent to comply with the RPS in 2014 and beyond.

But SB252 changes that to allow only 10 percent of any excess to the carried over. So, any savings ratepayers might’ve accrued are defenestrated.

The bill also ratchets up the percentage of renewables such that in 2014 the RPS goes from 18 to 21 percent, and in 2015 from 20 to 24 percent, and so on through 2025, when the requirement reaches 35 percent.

Never mind that renewables that would have to be built now to comply with these requirements cost four times as much as power from natural gas-fired turbines, which is the cleanest fossil-fuel currently available and its price is declining as shale gas production increases. Also, pay no heed to the fact wind and solar must have gas- or coal-fired plants idling on standby for when a cloud passes over or the wind speed drops below 12 mph.

By the time one calculates the greenhouse gases released in production and construction of wind and solar, plus the output of idling fossil-fuel plants, the “green” production is dirtier than the fossil-fuel sources.

So, what’s the point?

Obviously, it is to require more renewable power plants to be built and the cost and impact on global warming be damned. You see, renewable energy companies are prolific campaign contributors to Democrats.

But the state’s news media have ignored this odorous piece of legislation. The only reference I can find is a brief story in the Las Vegas Sun quoting state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy, which sponsored SB252, as saying, “We are not going to consider anything to drive up the cost to the consumer.”

If that were the case, SB252 would have been dead on arrival. Now it will take pitchforks and torches to kill this monster, but someone will have to awaken the peasants to the threat. Don’t count on the slumbering news media.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for your elected officials to realize ‘green’ energy is an economy killer

Nevada’s politicians — from Carson City to D.C. — are dead set on single-handedly saving the globe from warming, even though there are 1,200 new coal-fired power plants on the drawing board around the world and despite the fact there was been no appreciable global warming in nearly two decades.

Mighty noble. Mighty stupid.

In 1997 Nevada lawmakers passed the first renewable portfolio standard (RPS), since then it has been steadily increased until the law requires Nevadans to get 25 percent of our electricity from renewable resources by 2025. And the state’s senior senator and Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, thinks that’s too lenient.

Table from study of economic impact on Oregon due to its PRS, which is the save as Nevada's

Table from study of economic impact on Oregon due to its RPS, which is the same as Nevada’s

In this session of the Nevada Legislature there are eight separate bills addressing s0-called “green” energy and not a single one attempting to repeal the RPS, despite study after study showing that building renewable energy — especially wind and solar — generation has no impact on greenhouse gas emissions and may even make them worse because they are intermittent and must be backed up by idle fossil fuel generators.

A study by The Beacon Hill Institute in Boston and the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland, Ore., found that Oregon’s mandate for 25 percent of power from renewables by 2025, the same as Nevada’s, could increase power bills by somewhere between 14 and 34 percent and reduce the number of jobs in the state by between 10,000 and 25,000.

A study by the American Tradition Institute and the Rio Grande Foundation predicts that New Mexico’s 20 percent by 2020 RPS will increase that state’s power bills by somewhere between 6 percent and 32 percent, while destroying an average of 2,859 jobs — within a range of between 506 jobs under a low-cost scenario and 4,573 jobs under a high-cost scenario.

Using Energy Information Administration, Nevada Policy Research Institute calculated Nevada’s residential electricity rates have risen more than 5 percent per year since the first RPS was enacted. Prior to that power bills increased about 3 percent a year. If the current rate of increase continues, by my calculation, Nevadans will be paying 20 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2025 — nearly double the current rate of 11.3 cents per kWh.

“The expanded development of these resources will threaten the stability of the state’s electricity grid and raise electricity prices across the board,” the New Mexico study warned. “Moreover, the environmental benefits of wind power are a mirage due to the necessity of keeping backup power generation sources online and available to cycle-up when wind power is unavailable.

“RPS standards were put in place without taking into account long term and unintended consequences, and they carry demonstrably high costs with dubious benefits. Lawmakers should eliminate entirely or postpone them until they can debate all facets of the policy and make
informed decisions about how best to serve New Mexicans while being responsible environmental stewards.”

NPRI’s “Solutions 2013” book recommends: “Because of the renewable mandates,Nevadans are required to expend ever greater resources to obtain the same amount of energy. This is the very definition of economic inefficiency.

“Repeal of the RPS will lead to higher living standards and faster job growth.”

I think we’d all be much better off if our politicians chose an alternative method to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by simply holding their breaths until they turn green.