Norm Rhett's Comments

March 25, 2014

FERC Order 1000 Has Its Day in Court

According to http://www.edisonfoundation.net/iei/Documents/Electricity_Prices_Increasing_Brattle.pdf, "Fuel and purchased power cost increases have been enormous and are the largest cause of recent electric cost increases." Capital investments in distribution of renewable, virtually free energy will provide similarly enormous cost savings in the medium and long term.

January 23, 2014

Lessons from Minnesota: An Unexpected Solar Success

With solar electricity costs still falling significantly, it is already superior to fossil fuels in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and, especially compared to coal, far better for airborne particulates, even at relatively high latitudes such as those of northern Europe, most of which is north of Minnesota. Projected productive lifetimes of 20-25 years allow plenty of time to recover the energy cost of manufacture and installation. Subsidies are an appropriate role of government to promote the long term health and financial interests of its citizens.

January 16, 2014

SolarCity and Tesla: The Golden Children of 2014?

Cliff's plan for all our energy needs: Burn all the fossil carbon, then just switch to nuclear. What a visionary!

December 11, 2013

Fact Check: IER Finds it Hard to Kick Habit of Attacking Wind Power

Cliff, your comparisons imply that energy production from renewable sources should be correlated to subsidies and tax breaks to the same degree as those of fossil carbon sources. But renewables are at a very different point in their development.

Oil, gas and coal don't need help. They have been widely exploited for longer than living memory, are hugely profitable, and don't yet have to pay the full cost of their adverse environmental impacts. Your assertion that oil tax revenues are a 2000% return on investment is blatantly false. The taxes could be collected and the oil industry would produce about as much without the subsidies.

If we are to leave to our descendents a world as benign as what we inherited, renewables are the only viable long term sources of energy. Most of them cannot presently compete on direct cost, but they are constantly improving and some will undoubtedly become fully competitive, sooner with a price on carbon. Other than hydroelectric and geothermal, the resources are dilute but virtually unlimited and free.

In a similar way that funding of DARPA led to the development of the internet, we should expect and insist that our government protect our and our children's future by supporting development of technologies for which a present, unsubsidized business case cannot be made but which will help lead to indefinitely sustainable civilization.

December 13, 2013

Fact Check: IER Finds it Hard to Kick Habit of Attacking Wind Power

Extensive facts are fine, but not when they just belabor a false argument such as fossil carbon subsidies being investments equivalent to those for renewables. They are political gifts.

August 29, 2013

Renewables to Challenge Coal in China as Power Sector Doubles in Size

Surely Mr. Liebreich means "It is easy to underestimate ..." or "hard to overestimate ...".

Keith, I suggest looking up Cal Tech's Nathan Lewis. He makes the point that for nuclear power to become humanity's only energy source, we will have to commission a new 1GW plant every day for the next 50 years, i.e., about as long as each one lasts before it must be decommissioned and replaced. We can't even find long term storage for the current radioactive waste.

China has shown willingness and political ability to invest in renewables. If the ball ever left our court, it will soon be back.

August 29, 2013

Renewables to Challenge Coal in China as Power Sector Doubles in Size

Steven, Lewis was addressing energy worldwide. Seriously, watch one of his lectures. They're very broad and informative, if rather depressing.

August 15, 2013

Arizona Fights for Its Solar Energy Rights

NEM, at least in California, means getting credit on an annual basis for energy generated up to the level of annual usage. "Time of Use" billing charges and credits the customer at the same going rate - high during summer days or low at night, which roughly corresponds to demand levels, which even more roughly correspond to the utilities' costs of generation.

To me that all seems fair. The utility gets extra energy when it is most needed from generating capacity it has not paid for. The customer gets credit for that energy in return for providing the equipment.

With California's recent enactment of a feed in tariff (FIT), if annual generation exceeds usage, the excess is credited at wholesale. Again that seems fair because the objective should be to promote renewable generation, but not so much as to generate profit for the customer well in excess of what large, wholesale generators are paid.

The crossover from a zero usage bill to a credit is rather wide. We installed extra capacity to cope with EV commuting. We started getting paid after I retired. The rate is about $.045/kWh. I wouldn't complain if we had Germany's FIT rates, but I'm idealistic enough to be satisfied as is.

Chris Y, your assertion that PV is too expensive neglects the long term imperative of radically reducing combustion of fossil fuel and the reasonable prospect that PV will reach grid parity. Local, renewable electricity generation is an important component of that shift and won't happen without attractive incentives for homeowners to take the seemingly bold step of going solar.

August 15, 2013

Arizona Fights for Its Solar Energy Rights

NEM, at least in California, means getting credit on an annual basis for energy generated up to the level of annual usage. "Time of Use" billing charges and credits the customer at the same going rate - high during summer days or low at night, which roughly corresponds to demand levels, which even more roughly correspond to the utilities' costs of generation.

To me that all seems fair. The utility gets extra energy when it is most needed from generating capacity it has not paid for. The customer gets credit for that energy in return for providing the equipment.

With California's recent enactment of a feed in tariff (FIT), if annual generation exceeds usage, the excess is credited at wholesale. Again that seems fair because the objective should be to promote renewable generation, but not so much as to generate profit for the customer well in excess of what large, wholesale generators are paid.

The crossover from a zero usage bill to a credit is rather wide. We installed extra capacity to cope with EV commuting. We started getting paid after I retired. The rate is about $.045/kWh. I wouldn't complain if we had Germany's FIT rates, but I'm idealistic enough to be satisfied as is.

Chris Y, your assertion that PV is too expensive neglects the long term imperative of radically reducing combustion of fossil fuel and the reasonable prospect that PV will reach grid parity. Local, renewable electricity generation is an important component of that shift and won't happen without attractive incentives for homeowners to take the seemingly bold step of going solar.

April 03, 2013

Wind Power Costs UK Consumer Just 18 Pounds a Year

Cliff, I suggest a more detailed reading (if you read the Guardian article at all) of the figures presented to justify the claimed savings. Energy efficiency measures account for most of them. While these changes could be implemented independently from renewable energy mandates and subsidies, renewables are the only way to eventually wean us off increasingly expensive fossil fuels, both environmentally and financially. The resulting balance of stable or slightly falling energy bills should be acceptable. And no, the recent explosion of cheap gas in the US doesn't mean fossil fuels have a long term benign future. Their environmental costs in climate change and air, ground and water pollution will always grow, as will the monetary cost of extraction.

April 04, 2013

Cape Wind Finds Financing Partner, Enters Home Stretch

Chris, as I understand it, curtailment provides a financial benefit. By not using excess wind energy, costly, frequent changes to base load supplies can be avoided.

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