Thursday, February 17, 2011

High cost of the green mirage

This is a little wind farm, mind you.

Wind power will cost RI taxpayers $1.5M

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Deepwater Wind's initial project will raise state and local governments' electric bills by a combined $1.5 million in its first year, according to documents reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators.

Municipal electric bills will increase by a total of $1 million while state government's bill will rise by $476,630, according to an estimate commissioned by National Grid from Energy Security Analysis Inc. The cost would rise by 3.5 percent every year for the next two decades.

The estimate was included in a document National Grid asked the R.I. Public Utilities Commission to seal from the public view as the panel weighed whether to approve a controversial 20-year contract between Deepwater and Grid. The PUC denied that request, opening the town-by-town breakdown up for public inspection.

The government cost estimates reflect the smaller of Deepwater's two projects, a demonstration wind farm off Block Island that will have up to eight turbines and is expected to be up and running by 2013.

The company – which was handpicked by Gov. Don Carcieri in 2008 to develop wind power off Rhode Island's coast – is also proposing a much larger, utility-scale development of up to 200 turbines that won't be in place until at least 2015.

Much more, and video, at the link.

In a sidebar to the story quoted above, we learn that "National Grid will pay Deepwater a maximum of 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity in its first full year of operation. After that, the price will increase 3.5 percent per year – theoretically to 25.3 cents in the second year, 26.1 cents in the third year, etc." For comparison, a recent post at Green Tech says "Recent power purchase agreements to buy energy from wind farms have been in the range of 5 cents to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour." And for further comparison, that sidebar says that "National Grid pays 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for wholesale electricity in Rhode Island right now." Most of that comes from natural gas and nuclear.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The good, the bad, the ugly, from Washington, D.C.

The good:

Republicans declare war on federal regulations.

The Republican-led House this week will push through legislation aimed at making government rules and regulations less burdensome for business, setting up a standoff with President Obama over some of his key initiatives, including the new health care law, and testing Obama's efforts to appear more business friendly. The House measure, scheduled for a vote Thursday, would require committees "to inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations" and the rules' effect on jobs and economic growth.
They can't begin soon enough. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

The bad: $53 Billion for High Speed Rail. As Nancy Pelosi said in another context, "Are you serious?"

The ugly:
A proposal to amend the First Amendment. Rep Donna Edwards (D-MD) has introduced a proposed amendment to the Constitution. The text:

`Section 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.

`Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.'.

Amazingly, it has picked up 26 cosponsors. All the names I recognize on the list are Democrats.

The text seems to to call for, or to allow, specific statutes aimed at specific "entities." The built-in special exemption for the press takes care of the problem with McCain-Feingold noted by Ann Althouse in Why is the New York Times just noticing this? She says:
Liberals (including President Obama) think the Supreme Court was wrong in Citizens United to say that corporations have free speech rights, but newspaper and book publishers are corporations. For some reason, the NYT is acting like it took a year to notice this hitch (which has been perfectly evident since the Citizens United litgation began in the lower courts). I guess the excuse for pretending not to see what was obvious is that it has been hoping to rely on the notion that some corporations have more rights than others.
Democrats used to like freedom of speech. Maybe they were just claiming to like it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fear of a free future

Michael Barone had some thoughts on the SOTU speech. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the pointer.)

Obama’s Antique Vision of Technological Progress.

Barack Obama, like all American politicians, likes to portray himself as future-oriented and open to technological progress. Yet the vision he set out in his State of the Union address is oddly antique and disturbingly static.
Read the whole thing.

A lot of the speech was like finding an article in a magazine from 1930 about what the year 2000 would be like. The left can't let go of the dream of a command economy, even though command economies always fail. The knowledge problem is not amenable to wishful thinking. Over-regulation stifles activity of all kinds. How many nuclear plants could be under construction now if even half the money from the stimulus programs had been put into a program of construction? Killing the coal and oil industries without replacing them is a recipe for poverty. Lefties fear prosperity because poor people are easier to rule. Lefties fear technology because technology can lead to prosperity. You don't find computers in private hands in Communist countries. You didn't use to find typewriters, copiers or mimeographs, either.

Obama's EPA turning off the water to California's Central Valley is poverty by decree. It's not of the same magnitude as Stalin's Holodomor, or decreed famine, in the Ukraine in the 1930's, but it's the same type of thing. Shutting down West Virginia's largest coal mine is another move to promote poverty. And these moves do not have only local effects. They raise the prices of food and energy to the whole country, and indeed the world.

Update: Rick at Wizbang links to William O'Keefe at the Examiner: "Setting a goal to raise energy prices seems to be the last thing we would want to do as a nation." Yet it is the Administration's policy.