Forcing Consumers to Buy Renewable Energy

Congress pretends to solve an energy crisis

Carbon rationing is dead on Capitol Hill. The Democratic leadership in the Senate has concluded that they cannot round up enough votes to pass a cap-and-trade carbon rationing bill that aims to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases. But in the face of the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, congressional leaders feel that they must be seen as doing something about energy. And if that something provides members of Congress an opportunity to hand out federal pork to their friends, that’s a bonus.

So Democrats and some Republicans are pushing legislation that will reward favored industries, chiefly wind and solar power, by forcing consumers to buy the electricity that they produce. How? By requiring that retail electricity distributors purchase 15 to 20 percent of their electricity from wind and solar power producers by 2020. This so-called national renewable energy standard, or clean energy standard, is being carved out of energy legislation such as the American Clean Energy Leadership Act [PDF] proposed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

Supporters argue that renewable energy standards cut greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, revitalize rural communities, boost energy independence, and even lower energy prices. Many politicians find them irresistible as a way to signal to voters that they are serious about energy policy. As a consequence, two-thirds of Americans already live in the 28 states that since 1995 have begun to pursue various schemes to force consumers to buy wind and solar power. But are the claims of supporters economically credible?

When it comes to cheaply cutting greenhouse gases, renewable energy standards actually mandate perverse incentives, according to a 2008 analysis [PDF] by California State University, Fullerton, economist Robert Michaels. When it comes to cutting greenhouse gases, it may be cheaper to figure out how to get customers to cut back their demand for energy rather than build new expensive renewable capacity. Simply mandating extra capacity forecloses the opportunity to find which way is more efficient. For example, when a utility incentivizes customers to permanently cut their demand for a megawatt of capacity, this has the same effect on emissions as investing in a megawatt of renewable energy capacity. But under most current state schemes, cutting load by a megawatt under a 20 percent renewable energy standard reduces a utility’s obligation by only 0.2 megawatts, while building an additional megawatt of renewable capacity counts fully for compliance.

Put another way, increasing the price of electricity causes renewable energy standards to function like a really inefficient energy tax. A salient analogy comes from the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. Consider the case of a farmer who can produce 10,000 bushels of wheat using irrigation. Now suppose that the government prohibits irrigation which cuts his production to 9,000 bushels. From the point of view of the farmer that is the same as a 10 percent tax. But had the government imposed an actual 10 percent tax, it would have at least had 1,000 bushels of wheat to redistribute. Instead, those bushels (megawatt hours) just disappear.

The claim that renewable energy mandates boost overall job creation is persistent and powerful, but the experience of other countries clearly shows that such mandates destroy more jobs than they create. A study last October by an independent German economics think tank found that each solar power job cost $240,000 and overall the result of renewable energy subsidies was higher energy prices, lost jobs in other sectors of the economy, and reduced consumer purchasing power. The German study mirrored the findings of an earlier Spanish university study which reported that every green job created by subsidizing renewable energy destroyed 2.2 jobs in other sectors of the economy.

Vast agricultural subsidies have failed to “revitalize” rural areas, so why should one expect that renewable energy mandates causing wind farms to sprout across the vacant countryside will do the trick? As Michaels notes, supporters of renewable energy standards “do not make clear why outmigration that has persisted for a century should be reversed, or why power consumers should bear the costs.” Why should coastal urbanites pay more for electricity just to keep 'em down on the farm in North Dakota and Kansas?

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” quipped the 18th century wit, Samuel Johnson. Two centuries later, few things in political life are more scoundrelly than calls for energy independence. When it comes to electricity, we are already largely energy independent since the vast majority of our power [PDF] is now generated using domestic coal, natural gas, and hydropower.

Mandating renewable energy standards will not make us more energy independent with respect to electricity, just poorer. But just how much poorer is hotly disputed. Environmental activist groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists say renewable energy standards will boost electricity costs by mere pennies per day. As evidence, backers of renewable energy standards cite studies such as the recent one from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that finds that the standards would boost electricity prices by a measly 3 percent by 2020. Hardly noticeable.

But can that be? Michaels notes that EIA and most other studies on renewable energy standards rely on the National Energy Modeling System to make their cost projections. This is the same energy modeling system that the EIA used in 2000 to project that the price of oil in 2010 would be $29 per barrel [PDF] (adjusted for 2009 dollars). It was about $75 per barrel yesterday. Perhaps more interestingly, the EIA also projected in 2000 that renewables would make up a “smaller share of U.S. electricity generation, declining from 11.3 percent in 1998 to 9.5 percent in 2020.” The upshot is that energy model projections may be useful for outlining scenarios for energy planners, but they are not predictions.

Setting aside quibbles about energy cost and capacity modeling, if renewables like wind power were already cost competitive, then Congress would not need to mandate them. So will renewables soon be cost competitive? There are reasons to doubt they will be. Taking EIA projections with the requisite grain of salt, the agency’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2010 estimated the levelized costs [PDF] of various generation plants in 2016. Levelized costs include the cost of constructing a plant, the time required to construct a plant, the non-fuel costs of operating a plant, the fuel costs, the cost of financing, and the utilization of a plant. The levelized costs per megawatt hour are $100 for conventional coal power, rising to $129 for advanced coal with carbon capture and sequestration. On-shore wind costs are $149 per megawatt hour, and off-shore costs are $191. The cost of solar photovoltaic power is $396 per megawatt hour and solar thermal is $257. For what it’s worth, advanced nuclear comes in at $119 per megawatt hour.

Crudely, these levelized costs suggest that substituting wind for conventional coal under a 20 percent mandate would boost electricity prices by 10 percent. Similarly substituting solar photovoltaic power would increase electricity prices by about 20 percent. A recent analysis by the Heritage Foundation takes into account the costs of building a vast new national high voltage electricity grid to transmit wind and solar power from the plains and the deserts to coastal cities, the costs of building and maintaining additional natural gas electricity generation capacity to back up intermittent renewable energy sources, and consumer cuts in their electricity use due to higher prices. Once these and other factors are added in, the Heritage Foundation study finds that in 2020 a 15 percent renewable energy standard would reduce the disposal incomes of American families by $1,700 per year and increase unemployment over what it would otherwise have been by more than one million jobs.

Ultimately, the top-down imposition of a renewable energy standard now being considered by Congress is a stupid and costly way to cut greenhouse gas emissions; will destroy more jobs than it creates; is just another wasteful subsidy showered on depopulating rural communities; will do nothing for the chimerical pursuit of energy independence; and will, in fact, increase energy prices to consumers. A national renewable energy standard, concludes California State University economist Michaels, “is an inefficient and inequitable response to the emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases, a reassuring and ultimately dysfunctional distraction from real problems.” What could be more perfect for bipartisan action in Congress?

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

Join Ron Bailey, Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, and Jacob Sullum on Reason’s weeklong Caribbean cruise in February 2011. Sign up today!

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  • Max||

    Does its being a bad idea have anything to do with its being incompatible with libertarian orthodoxy?

  • ||

    Van Morrison wrote a song about you Edward.

    Did you see the lad, on the corner
    He was standing drinking wine
    Wears his overcoat in the summer
    And short sleeves in the winter time

    Takes his holidays, down at the bookies
    Well he knows how to pick a horse
    Village tramping round the countryside
    He wears a smile, but he doesn’t say much

    Village idiot, he’s complicated
    Village idiot, simple mind
    Village idiot, he does know something
    But he’s just not saying

    Don’t you know he’s onto something
    You can see it, you can see it in his eyes
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    As he goes strolling by

    Oh village idiot, he’s complicated
    Village idiot, he’s got a simple mind
    Village idiot, must know something
    But he’s just not saying

    Well you all know he’s onto something
    You can see it in his eyes
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    When he goes walking by
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    When he goes walking by
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    When he goes walking by.
  • ||

    Let's see... would forcing people to buy products they don't want be a good idea? By what definition of the good?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    Does its being a bad idea have anything to do with its being incompatible with libertarian orthodoxy?

    Even if it were, it does not mean that simple physics and economics do not play a role in making such an idea just as idiotic and wasteful.

  • Hoyt||

    Theory says nothing about types of energy sources. It's just that if something is less efficient, then promoting it will cost more money and this cost will be passed on to the consumer as well as the taxpayer. Hopefully it will only be in the form of higher energy costs. I would hate to see people freeze to death as a result of other's misguided efforts to make themselves feel good about "saving" the planet. The fact that it is less efficient and will cost more money does not even take into account the fact that most programs run by the government also result in more wasted money in the form of fraud, corruption, cronyism, etc. Thus the taxpayer's money will be wasted to enrich connected businessmen and friends and relatives of federal, state, and local politicians and people who gave them money. It won't even result in the increase in solar, wind, etc. that it should if the money was spent properly. Some people never learn.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Hoyt,

    Theory says nothing about types of energy sources. It's just that if something is less efficient, then promoting it will cost more money and this cost will be passed on to the consumer as well as the taxpayer.

    This is perfectly true and economics will tell you this, but watermellons are not interested in economics (they will cite "externalities" in an effort to obviate the price system), they are interested only in grandiosity.

  • Chad||

    And you will ignore externalities, because with one word we utterly refute your economic beliefs.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Chad,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • Chad||

    As long as your thing doesn't affect anyone else, go for it.

    Of course, you can't even breathe without affecting other people, so that's not much of a concession.

  • Fritz Perls||

    How have you affected other people Chad?

  • cynical||

    True enough. Would you kindly do everyone a favor and stop?

  • qwerty||

    So are you asserting the right to stop us from breathing? Or do you just want to "regulate" it?

  • ||

    Where's Gallagher when you need him?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    And you will ignore externalities, because with one word we utterly refute your economic beliefs.

    Not really. Calling anything you fancy an "externality" makes the concept irrelevant.

  • Chad||

    I use the standard economic textbook definition, OM. Why don't you?

  • Nyet||

    Who ignores 3rd party effects? No one I know.

  • Ted S.||

    Politicians ignore the externalities of the legislation they propose.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    TEH EXTERNALITIES!!!1!

  • patrick||

    Chad, its interesting externalities are only 'negative' in your economic beliefs. What about the 'positive' externalities?

    Cars emit exhaust you will claim is a negative externality, however, a ambulance saves lives while emitting the same exhaust.

    Externalities in the form of tax payments to the govt always shocks me because I never see that money in the UK go directly to the supposed externality offense.

  • Urkobold™||

    0100100100100000011010110110111001
    1001010111011100100000011000010010
    0000011001110110100101110010011011
    0000100000011011100110000101101101
    0110010101100100001000000100110101
    1000010111100001101001000011010000
    1010010010010010000001100111011101
    0101100101011100110111001100100000
    0111100101101111011101010010000001
    1000110110111101110101011011000110
    0100001000000111001101100001011110
    0100100000011100110110100001100101
    0010000001110111011000010111001100
    1000000110000100100000011100110110
    0101011110000010000001100110011010
    0101100101011011100110010000001101
    0000101001001001001000000110110101
    1001010111010000100000011010000110
    0101011100100010000001101111011011
    1000100000011000010010000001101100
    0110111101100011011000010110110000
    1000000110001001101100011011110110
    0111011001110110100101100101000011
    0100001010010011010110000101110011
    0111010001110101011100100110001001
    1000010111010001101001011011100110
    0111001000000111011101101001011101
    0001101000001000000110000100100000
    0110110101100001011001110110000101
    111010011010010110111001100101

  • ||

    HA! Good One!

    *knee slapping*

  • CrackerBarrel||

    Urkobold,

    01010111010010000101100100100000
    01001011010011110100111000100111
    01010100001000000101100101001111
    01010101001000000101001101000001
    01011001001010010100100101010100
    00100000010010010100111000100000
    01010000010011000100000101001001
    01001110001000000100111101001100
    01000100001000000011100000100000
    01000010010010010101010000100000
    01000001010100110100001101001001
    0100100100111111

    CrackerBarrel

  • Urkobold™||

    "WHY KON'T YOU SAY)IT IN PLAIN OLD 8 BIT ASCII?"

    A BINARY LANGUAGE IS NECESSARY FOR COMMUNICATING WITH THOSE INFERIOR TROLLS WHO USE BINARY THINKING.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Does its being a bad idea have anything to do with its being incompatible with libertarian orthodoxy?


    It is a bad idea because there is no way any one group of people can understand the needs and wants of three hundred million people.

  • #8====D||

    My penis is certified by Energy Star.

    Any ladies out there looking to conserve energy? You just manually charge it and usually it'll go a few times a day for an hour or two. There are also accessories you can purchase if you want to go hands free.

  • Jordan||

    I guess it's hand-cranked, am I right?

  • #8====D||

    Mainly, yes. Unless you buy the special attachment. Which consists of a helmet (optional), knee pads, and a jaw retractor. That way you can save the planet and be safe at the same time.

  • ola||

    Just like in Crank II High Voltage with Jason Statham at Hollywood park

  • OO=====D||

    Find another handle, cunt.

  • lol wut?||

    It clearly looks like a penis, ya hairless dick.

  • Steve Austin||

    Sorry OO=====D, you have been replaced by Better, stronger, faster and apparently harder man

  • Heartless Libertarian||

    Of course, 'renewable' (ie, solar and wind) energy supporters ignore one of the biggest problems with wind and solar: intermittency. They're simply not always there.

    And since there not always there, or not always able to operate at full capacity, you need back up. The back ups all burn coal, oil, or gas, and have to be kept running in order to be available when needed.

    And can somebody explain to me why hydroelectric doesn't count as renewable energy?

  • skr||

    the other backup scheme is to use gravity. You pump water up a hill and use a hydroelectric turbine to generate electricity at off times.

  • ||

    There are several, actually.

    There is wind to hydrogen, which uses wind generated electricity to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can be used to run a car engine.

    There is wind to battery, which uses wind generated electricity to charge large batteries. The batteries can be used when the wind isn’t blowing.

    There compressed air storage too, which is a way to store energy generated at one time for use at another time. At utility scale, energy generated during periods of low energy demand (off-peak) can be released to meet higher demand (peak load) periods.

    And others as well.

  • Hoyt||

    Yes. And this is part of the point. All of these solutions cost extra money and add to the overall cost of actually using these types of power. Even the countries ideally set up for wind only use it for a small percentage of their electricity.

    For example, we don't have hydrogen cars, just a few hydrogen powered fork-lifts in warehouses. Batteries go bad and lose their charge and have pollution costs of their own with heavy/toxic metals or caustic acids and electric cars still don't have the range (except hybrids) to allow me to evacuate from a hurricane. And none of these conversions is anywhere near 100% efficient .......

  • ||

    And none of these conversions is anywhere near 100% efficient .......

    THIS THIS THIS. Making hydrogen from water is terribly inefficient, unless you can start with water that's hot as hell.

  • ||

    Since the Church can bless water and make it into Holy Water, can it also damn water and make it into Unholy Water? The reason that I ask is that such water would, presumably, be hotter than hell.

  • ||

    Well, perhaps only as hot as hell, but surely that's enough for our energy needs.

  • Jen||

    Assuming that hell is exothermic, of course.

  • ||

    Of course.

  • Cthorm||

    THIS. I'm a big proponent of modular nuclear reactors (i.e. Hyperion Power).

    1) Minimize red tape by only getting one reactor certified, then mass produced
    2) Plenty of heat output to preheat water for hydrolysis or other similar uses.
    3) No huge infrastructure investment, as the power generation can be distributed and purchased by communities or companies.
    4) Completely proliferation proof

  • SFC B||

    Charging batteries is also terribly inefficient with something like 60% of the energy wasted in the process.

  • JJ||

    But you're still putting more energy into pumping the water uphill than you could ever hope to regain on the other side (hydroelectrically). This, I think, sinks the ship.

  • ~A||

    Pump storage hydro has existed for quite some time. Pump water in when electricity is cheap, generate with it when electricity is expensive. This makes sense in certain locations under certain condition (certain capacities for economy of scale and such.) No, it is not perpetual motion, there are obviously losses. You do not get back out what you put in to pump the water. The variable price of electricity is what drives this.

  • JJ||

    Agreed. In certain locations. Under certain conditions.

    Doesn't seem to me to be globally feasible though.

  • skr||

    as for why hydroelectric isn't renewable, it is but environmentalists find dams icky and they destroy trout and salmon habitat.

  • Chad||

    Hydro also probably releases more GHG than natural gas, due to the methane releases from the resevoirs. But who is counting?

  • ||

    Citation?

  • skr||

    The "fuel" for the methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emitted by dams is the rotting of the vegetation and soils flooded by reservoirs, and of the organic matter (plants, plankton, algae, etc.) that flows into, and is produced in, reservoirs over their lifespan. The gases are released at the reservoir surface, at turbines and spillways, and downstream of the dam. Greenhouse gases are also produced by various other dam-related impacts including the fossil fuels and building materials used during dam construction; land clearing for resettlement sites, transmission lines and access roads; and the expansion of irrigated agriculture (an important cause of methane emissions). The trapping of sediments in reservoirs may act as a carbon sink; it may also indirectly increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by reducing the amount of river-borne sediments available to fertilize oceanic plankton, which are important consumers of carbon dioxide.

    oh FFS. that is some strained argumentation just because they don't like dams. the only valid point would be the rotting of the flodded organic matter but even that was pulled out of the atmosphere like the rest. It would have made its way back eventually as well.

  • Chad||

    So real science = "strained argumentation". Gotcha.

    Yes, scientists strain to make technically correct arguments, rather than the crap you fools spew without half the qualifiers or a tenth the thought as necessary. That's a good thing.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Who are the fools you speak of here, Chad?

  • skr||

    No scientist made that statement you knuckle dragging ape.

  • Fritz Perls||

    skr,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • Chad||

    Neither of you has any idea what science is or isn't. That's half the problem.

    Get back to me when you can distinguish the writings of professionals who know what they are talking about from the rantings of wingnut bloggers.

    Btw, the person who wrote those words does not have a PhD, but certain has met the level of expertise of someone who has.

  • skr||

    right because it's possible to accurately determine what the ghg load is for maintaining a dam over it's lifetime. So by how much are they increasing efficiency over time? And if you actually believe there is quantifiable evidence that the sediment diversion and subsequent lack of marine algae growth acually offsets the fw algae sequestration, I have a nice bridge you might be interested in. I bet you actually believe they conclusively proved you get cancer from second-hand smoke simply by walking past a smoker on the sidewalk.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Do you hate people who don't understand science Chad? Why?

  • Hooha||

    "Hydro also probably releases more GHG than natural gas, due to the methane releases from the resevoirs. But who is counting?"

    Swing and a miss.

  • ph||

    In the West, dams might create more trout habitat than they destroy. great if you like trout where they wouldn't otherwise exist, I suppose.

  • Terr||

    They also encourage the survival of the strong as fuck salmon.

  • skr||

    Not in my neck of the woods, southern cal, dams make bass habitat. That would make sense up north though.

  • skr||

    lake trout over the native goldens and such, right?

  • leavemealone||

  • Chad||

    I don't know one single supporter of renewables who "ignores" intermittency. I do, however, know of a libertarian or two (or a million) who ignores the many solutions to this problem.

  • ||

    Chad wins a prize here.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    I do, however, know of a libertarian or two (or a million) who ignores the many solutions to this problem.

    Spoken like a true leash-holder looking for a dog.

  • John||

    Many libertarians seem to be scientists and engineers.

  • Sudden||

    A million libertarians? You gotta be fucking kidding me.... make us sound like we actually have some ranks.

  • ||

    Chad|7.13.10 @ 5:27PM|#
    "...who ignores the many solutions to this problem."
    Yep. I also ignore claims of purple unicorns. For similar reasons.

  • Chad||

    Hark! What is that I see?

    IT'S A 27 BILLION GALLON PURPLE UNICORN!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....ower_Plant

    (Never in my life did I expect to use the phrase "billion gallon purple unicorn" to smack someone silly in an argument...thanks Ron!).

  • Fritz Perls||

    Why do you want to "smack Ron L silly", Chad?

  • ||

    why do people always forget nuclear?

  • George||

    Because Japan and France already get 60-80% of their electricity from it and it makes too much sense. Besides it reminds progressives of nuclear war and if it makes them feel icky then their agin it.

  • Chad||

    I have no problem with nuclear, as long as

    1: It can fully insure itself against any realistic disaster, with its own money

    2: It goes without any subsidies. The tens of billions it has already received should be enough for it to stand on its own two feet by now.

  • Hoyt||

    Nuclear, just like others, should not be subsidized. If it were, it would require far less in subsidies. So it makes little sense for you to be for subsidies in thousands of cases but then in this one instance, to be against them. What are you, some kind of fanatic?

  • Fritz Perls||

    Chad,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • ||

    Chad: How about no subsidies or mandates for any energy sources period? Actually, just no subsidies or mandates period!

  • Chad||

    Deal...as soon as renewables receive catch-up funds equal to the subsidies fossil fuels have received. Or if you don't like that, I would accept a simple requirement that all forms of energy must pay back all previous subsidies, with market-return levels of interest.

    Also, EVERY form of pollution must be taxed at whatever level the best science determines the appropriate value to be.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Have you ever been in a situation where no one excepted your requirements, Chad? How did you feel?

  • Fritz Perls||

    Have you ever been in a situation where no one accepted your requirements, Chad? How did you feel?

    Suppose Ron doesn't accept your requirements, or has requirements that differ from your own. What will you do? How will you feel?

  • ||

    Chad: How about no subsidies or mandates for any energy sources period? Actually, just no subsidies or mandates period!

  • ||

    I agree with both Rons.

  • johnl||

    You are way to optimistic. At Palm Springs, the windmills never turn. Broken blades sit on the desert floor. There is square miles of that garbage in plain sight but it's invisible to most people because it conflicts with their ideology.

  • Environmentalist Fucktard||

    But...but...there were rare Blue-Footed Boobies getting caught in the windmill blades! Why can't we just power the country with Chad's sense of self-importance?

    Sniffle, sob!

  • Ron||

    hydroelectric was taken off the state of Washington's list of renewable resources because they plan to dissmantle all of the dams, in Washington to help the fish. Never mind that we need the dams for farms and to help control flooding. Enviromental idiots in California are also pursing this same no dam thing. the U.S.A. the first nation in history on earth to actually outlaw it's own existance one law at a time.

  • Van||

    As I predicted earlier, they have shot the dog instead of capturing it humanely.

    Never call a Cop to do a Dogcatcher's job. Never call a politician to do, ....................................................?

    Well, anything!

  • ||

    I was gonna say "I'd call a politician if i needed someone to die in a fire." But then i realized they'd probably screw that up too, and then tax me for the privilege.

  • Bill||

    In New Jersey, PSE&G recently installed a buttload of solar panels - 5 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet high - on utility poles statewide (they're still going). They produce something like 200 watts, but that figure is directly from the local newspaper so, you know, grain of salt and all that.

    If it's simply a case of a private company taking advantage of a free and limitless source of "raw materials", I applaud them. Even if the panels are kind of ugly.

    It's up to them to decide whether the investment is worth it. The panels will last about 20 years, with almost zero maintenance over that time. Sticking them on poles they already own means they didn't have to purchase a plot of land for a consolidated solar farm.

    Even if it's revenue-negative, they get to claim they're getting X% of their juice from solar, and win a few points with the environmentally-minded consumers. That might make it a break-even.

    All in all, it just looks like a simple business decision.

    I don't know if there's a government mandate behind this effort. I don't see any reason for the gubmint getting involved.

  • ||

    Something about this scheme sounds fishy. How exactly do you integrate a DC solar panel with a 3-phase AC current transmission line in a small space on every single untility pole.

    I suspect the solar panels are either, A) a completely non-functional marketing gimmick.
    or B) only supplying power for some local transmission line monitoring functions.

    In other words, I doubt it's putting anything on the grid at all.

  • Scooby, P.E.||

    Some of the newer configurations of panels put a small inverter on each panel, so there isn't any DC external to the panel-inverter set. Install them in sets of 3, and you can easily integrate them into a 3-phase AC line in a reasonably balanced fashion.

    I have no knowledge of the economic feasibility, but there isn't an engineering problem here.

  • ||

    Slapping 3 inverters on each panel would cost about as much as the panel.

    I still have no idea how that effects the economic feasibility, but it isn't encouraging.

  • JJ||

    And it's not jut the cost of the inverters. Inverters require batteries to maintain a constant voltage input source. And batteries are expensive, bulky, and high maintenance in constant charge/discharge environments.

    Super large capacitors might be an alternative, but I don't think the storage capacity of any capacitor is up to the task with present technology.

  • Scooby, P.E.||

    Not 3 inverters per panel... 1 inverter per panel (google "micro-inverter"), with panel/inverter sets installed in groups of 3 to allow for balance between 3 phases.

    RE: synchronization: grid-tie inverters are built to sync to the grid frequency and shut-off on loss of grid power (to protect linemen working to restore power in an outage).

    Re: JJ's point- grid tied systems do not typically use batteries. I don't know where you get the idea that inverters require batteries, or a constant voltage input source.

  • JJ||

    Any intermittent source of power must ultimately be stored in some form or fashion. The only way to do this is to use either batteries or capacitors.
    This is the constant voltage input source of which I speak.

    Since it isn't possible to store AC voltage, then it must be stored in a DC state. In order to change a DC voltage into an AC voltage, an inverter is required.

    The inverter pulses the DC voltage input to approximate an AC signal. This enables the use of transformer action to propagate the energy down stream with minimal power loss.

    What other way is there to take a DC voltage output from a solar cell and create a usable AC energy source? And what are you going to use to store the DC voltage from the intermittent voltaic cells other than batteries?

  • Scooby||

    Why would you try to store the solar power that has its peak production to the grid at about the same time as the peak load of grid connected air conditioning systems? The grid is, in effect, the battery, and the power produced displaces the need for a comparable amount of power from an alternate source (usually a gas powered generator, since that is what is used to generate that last kW- it's the most dispatchable).

    These panels on poles all over town are mostly window dressing, but they do contribute a little power to the grid in a fashion that doesn't cause any insurmountable problems, and probably have a ROI (before subsidies) of 4-6% above and beyond their PR/goodwill value. They might even pay for themselves over their own operational life.

    These kind of threads make me sympathize with the resident attorneys that have to endure argumentation from laymen who know just enough jargon to make them dangerously stupid.

  • JJ||

    I was speaking more in terms of pointing out the impracticality of solar power in general more than I was referring to this specific case.

    Perhaps in this case, they just might pay for themselves right before they die. (Before subsidies.)

    If you want to just logically OR the energy of the sunny panels into the grid, that's fine. That's when the air conditioners are running hardest anyway. But that wasn't my main point. My fault, I should have made that distinction in my post - because to mention it now seems a bit like crawfishing.

    Bottom line remains, however, that solar panels produce DC. The grid works on AC. And solar panels produce zero at night. Therefore, a battery must be used to store the energy if it is to be used over a 24 hour period. (Unless you know of solar panels that produce voltage in the dark.) Ultimately, I still think it's an overall bad idea given today's level of solar technology.

    Sorry for the layman's terms. I was trying no to be terribly esoteric. Electricity is confusing to the uninitiated. Too bad you got so insultingly worked up over it. Not looking to find any enemies here...

  • Scooby||

    Solar is bad because it can't be used on its own? By that standard, the only acceptable power sources are the most dispatchable- hydro and natural gas fired turbines. Other sources (such as nukes, coal fired steam, etc.) just cannot respond fast enough to varying demand to be practical sources of power.

    Fortunately, there are a diverse range of generating sources to hook into the grid- nukes and coal provide a good cheap constant input to cover the base load, and hydro and gas turbines cover the variable load, with supplementation by wind and solar.

    I get worked up because your logic sucks. You dismiss solar as a SUPPLEMENTARY source of power because it is not practical as an exclusive source.

  • JJ||

    I get worked up because your logic sucks. You dismiss solar as a SUPPLEMENTARY source of power because it is not practical as an exclusive source.

    And my logic sucks? Heh...

  • Scooby||

    If you have some esoteric knowledge of power generation or distribution engineering, you've concealed it well.

    Are you opposed to automobiles as a means of transportation because they suck at crossing bodies of water? I mean, cars are stopped by tiny amounts of water across a road. You'd have to build bridges to make them work- completely impractical. Besides, what if I want to go to Europe. You can't drive a car to Europe- it's completely impossible. Hell, you can't even drive a car to South America, and that's connected by land with bridges across all the water obstacles. Get back to me when you have those technical details worked out; until then, cars just won't work as a method of transport.

    Some of your objections are completely false: intermittent power must be stored (it can also be used as it is produced, in place of other sources); inverters require constant voltage input (I can't even suppose the logic behind this one- it's just wrong). Others are trivial: solar PV panels produce DC vs. AC on the grid (yeah, panels don't work on their own-inverters are required, just as a lot of equipment is required to turn a lump of coal into AC power); solar panels produce nothing at night (yeah, and electricity demand is lowest at night) Anything else I missed?

  • JJ||

    Well then be my guest and convert your house to solar power. Or, even supplement it.

    Let me know when you've done it and even post a .jpg of the whole thing.

    Oh, and no subsidies either.

  • JJ||

    And the constant voltage input source:

    Inverters change DC to AC. You must have DC first, right? That clear?

    At night, or if it's cloudy, there is no (or little) DC from the solar cell. Therefore, if you want AC output from your inverter, you're going to need a constant source of DC somehow.

    Hmm, how to do this? Uh, batteries? Geez, man how hard is this to grasp?

    We haven't even gotten to the esoteric part yet. Let me know when you understand what we've covered so far.

    I understand your supplemental argument, but you seem to be stuck on this constant input thing for some reason.

    And any technology that requires subsidies - do we even need to go over that as well?

  • JJ||

    If your point is that batteries aren't necessary in the supplemental configuration, then you're correct. However, by your own words, that arrangement *might* pay for itself in it's lifetime.

    So in this battery-free configuration, by your own words, as soon as it pays for itself, it dies (at best). What is the net gain? Zero. (At best - hence subsidies.) So, what's the point?

    Perhaps this is where we disagree and not so much on the DC input?

    Either way, solar is not a technologically good solution in its present, rather primitive, (compared to what the future hopefully holds) state.

  • JJ||

    "Other sources (such as nukes, coal fired steam, etc.) just cannot respond fast enough to varying demand to be practical sources of power."

    You utter such nonsense and then go on to question any counter-position on the subject matter?

    Elaborate on your "...cannot respond fast enough to varying demand..." statement, please.

    Too bad I didn't read this days ago...

  • JJ||

    Are you an active or prior crewman on the Steve Irwin, by any chance?

  • Scooby||

    Do you understand the difference between a technical obstacle and an economic obstacle? The former is due to problems with the laws of physics. The latter varies with the market (free or not), and can include intangibles, such as goodwill. Solar is technologically feasible at this time. In certain cases, it can be economically feasible, especially with subsidies (not ideal, but unless you're the kind of guy that refuses to use public roads, they are part of the equation).

    Regarding nukes, coal, and the other cheapest sources of power- these are very slow to respond to rapid changes in demand- it's not dispatchable power. They are great for generating the base load, but they can't be sped up and slowed down fast enough to respond to dynamic loads. Trying to meet all demand with these generation sources would create serious power quality problems (voltage dips, frequency variations, brownouts, blackouts, etc.). The dispatchable power sources are generally more expensive than the base load sources. This is the sort of thing that makes an economic analysis a little more complicated than just comparing $300/MWh solar vs. $75/MWh nuke power.

    In the case that spawned this little diversion (panels on poles connected to the grid), I assume that they function mainly shave a bit of the summer afternoon peak load off the demand profile, while generating a little goodwill- a little greenwashing to put in their ads and annual reports. In this case, they are not economically competing with nuke or coal power- those are slow to be designed, slow to be licensed, slow to be built, and, once online years after being authorized, slow to respond to dynamic changes in load. Solar panels on poles for summer afternoon peaking would be competing against more dispatchable peaking plants such as hydro (about as slow to be designed and built as nukes, and really expensive, plus usually involves eminent domain of all that land that gets inundated for the reservoir), or gas turbine (majority of new plants today). One advantage that solar would have is that you don't have to build it 500MW at a time. Those large plants quickly lose their economic advantage when they are not loaded to their maximum capacity. If a utility can install 50MW of solar panels in order to put off building a 500MW gas turbine peaking plant to handle their summer afternoon peaks, then those solar panels pay for themselves pretty damn fast.

    There are even situations where renewable energy sources are favored by free market economic factors (but not necessarily after subsidies are figured in). My country house (to be built on some rural land I own) might be off the grid- solar and possibly wind powered, with batteries. Or I might take advantage of the heavy subsidies for rural power connections. Is centrally-generated, grid-delivered power not technologically feasible for rural properties? It's not economically competitive without subsidies.

    And again... you were responding to a specific message thread. You do understand how threaded messages work, right? Go up to the least indented message. You'll see it's about panels owned by the electric utility installed on poles owned by the electric utility? That's what I was talking about. I said in my first message how that would work (technical feasibility), and how it could pay for itself (economic feasibility). Either because of your shitty reading comprehension or your elementary understanding of electricity (and complete lack of knowledge of power generation engineering and economics), you started talking about batteries, etc.- things of which you don't display more than a layman's understanding. In other words, you're severely out of your element.

    And the Steve Irwin? Is that your level of understanding of renewable energy? HURR DURR him not burn coal for fun HURR DURR him must be stinky hippie treehugger. Next time you feel tempted to respond to a technical discussion, just go read a fucking book instead- everyone involved will be better off. If you can't resist, at least read up on the Wikipedia articles for a basic understanding of the subject before diving in.

    [obligatory libertarian content]The mandates under consideration in the Senate are wrong-headed, but it's not because renewable energy sources are completely unfeasible. Also, the Heritage Foundation bases quite a bit of their arguments on the results of squishy economic models, and is therefore about as epistemologically valid as the tripe coming from the AGW crowd.[/obligatory libertarian content]

  • JJ||

    Man, you are really, really, going too far with the insults. Funny how the first person to go ad-hom usually has the weakest argument.

    Good luck with that solar panel and the windmill at your new place.

    Good day, sir.

  • JJ||

    The sad part is that I agree with almost all of your thinking.

    Too bad we had to get in each other's faces.

    I'll give you the deserved respect of informing you that I plan to read your response to this, but understand that I will no longer respond to this thread, regardless of the intensity or abundance of whatever further insults you feel compelled to type.

    Enjoy your victory, Pyrrhic as it may be.

  • ||

    Oh, and 200 watts from a panel that size sounds right, based on my own panel shopping comparisons.

  • ||

    When it's clean and there is no overcast. Where is this?

  • CrackerBarrel||

    I'm not an expert, but doesn't the output of the inverters:
    a) have to be synced rather exactly with the phase of the AC?; and
    b)be conditioned/filtered to produce pretty sine waves with no spikes?

    CrackerBarrel.

  • JJ||

    a) Yes, synchronization is very important, especially to sensitive equipment. Hence the need for constant voltage input. (And batteries are unfortunately the best option available.)

    b) Yes again, but given a constant voltage input, that is no longer a terribly difficult engineering challenge.

  • Brian||

    RE: Bill -
    "The panels will last about 20 years, with almost zero maintenance over that time"

    The panels will need to be cleaned regularly.

  • Chad||

    Idiot libertarians kill cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, which are the most efficient ways to solve the problem. Then they whine that the alternative proposals that sprout up aren't as effective.

    God damn it, are you guys really this bleeping stupid?

  • ||

    I'm taking your prize back.

  • Miku||

    Carbon Tax was the only good idea, cap and trade is a terrible idea. Libertarians did not kill the Carbon Tax, business and unions killed it. I am pro Carbon Tax even though it would reduce "standards of living," as the trade off is worth it. In attempting to provide an excuse to give Americans lavish increases in living standards, and protect the environment, they are doing more damage to both.

  • Chad||

    C&T and a tax are economically equivalent, Miku.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Chad,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • Tony||

    But one phrase is the object of a Drudgean two-minutes hate and the other isn't.

  • Don||

    Milton Friedman proposed flat rate pollution taxes with the proceeds used to mitigate clean-up/damages and/or to conduct research toward improved technology so many libertarians of the minarchist persuasion would be fine with some pollution taxes as a way of accounting for 3rd party effects. But my liberal friends don't like them. They prefer that if a power company make even the slightest upgrade then it has to fully comply with all laws and spend billions all at once. Which of course they can't afford to do so not only does the plant not get the major overhaul, there also are no gradual upgrades and improvements allowed which a pollution tax would continually provide incentive for.

  • Chad||

    Don, I spend a LOT of time with lib'ruls and envirowhackos. I don't know a single one who would not jump down a dragon's throat in return for a price being put on CO2.

  • Fritz Perls||

    And why do you say that they are stupid?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    Idiot libertarians kill cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, which are the most efficient ways to solve the problem.

    Late-nite commercials also try to sell the idea that there's a problem I didn't know about and that they have the solution to it. I keep my money, and the so-called problems never materialize.

    Moral: Never listen to snake-oil salesman. Or Chad. Same shit.

  • ||

    "Idiot libertarians kill cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, which are the most efficient ways to solve the problem. Then they whine that the alternative proposals that sprout up aren't as effective.

    God damn it, are you guys really this bleeping stupid?"

    You want to talk about efficiency, take a look at these hippie asshole environmentalists:

    Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

    Actually, they are quite right in that if every human being eschewed procreation, and eventually phased out of existence, then we wouldn't have to solve human problems any longer.

    However, the very notion could, perhaps, contravene some serious sentiments, logic, and reason.

    I would hate to be the democrat who had to propose this solution, despite its' irrefutable effectiveness.

  • skr||

    at least it is effective.

  • Chad||

    Actually, drunk punk, I argue with those who follow that strand of environmentalism quite vehmently.

  • ||

    Actually, drunk punk, I argue with those who follow that strand of environmentalism quite vehmently.

    Why? What point of their ideology do you find so reprehensible? If humans are, by default, so corrupt and dangerous to the planet earth... why not abstain from breeding in hopes to phase ourselves out?

    What justification do you have as an environmentalist for our continued reproduction?

  • qwerty||

    I love it when liberals decide not to have kids. That leaves fewer people to oppose my descendants.

  • ||

    No, as I pointed out, the Obama Administration killed the SOx cap and trade itself.

  • ||

    Cold fusion.

  • Whole Grain||

    My feces are so dense they collapse in on themselves to form a singularity. You can power the Earth for near eternity on my fecal energy.

  • Old Mexican||

    Nibbler? Is that you?

  • ||

    Nibbler is a carnivore.

  • ||

    Uh, talk a little louder. It sounds like you got some kind of tiny head on you or something.

  • Old Mexican||

    Setting aside quibbles about energy cost and capacity modeling, if renewables like wind power were already cost competitive, then Congress would not need to mandate them.

    Ron, such logic escapes the true authoritarian slash environmentalist. They are leash-holders looking for a dog, and they are eyeing us (or rather our wallets - remember, a socialist is a thief with no character.)

  • ||

    Also, the Obama EPA has decided to destroy the sulfur dioxide cap and trade market, replacing it with command-and-control.

  • Sidd Finch||

    I don't know anything about cap and trade markets, but I don't see any inherent good beyond a smooth transition process. At some point technology (scrubbers in this case) becomes mature enough to just set some sort of cap, especially for sulfur oxides which (unlike CO2) are well-known to seriously fuck shit up.

  • ||

    Why is energy independence such a great thing?

    I don't want Kiwi fruit independence or DVD player independence or new car independence...in fact we do have defacto sugar Independence and all that gives us is trouble and less tasty Cola beverages. Our Cotton independence is not working great either.

  • Sidd Finch||

    All things equal, local energy sources have lower well-to-wheel costs. You'd care more about where the kiwis came from if you bought them by the ton.

  • Shoeless Chris||

    "Our Cotton independence is not working great either."

    RACIST!!

  • Zim Bobway||

    The gov't prints about 16,650,000 one dollar bills each day, and there are billions of one dollar bills in circulation. That's a lot of heat energy ...

  • ||

    PLUS, it's renewable. It's not like they won't print more to meet the heating demand.

  • Almanian||

    That's gonna come in handy this winter. It gets cold in Michigan.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    AND it's stimulative, too. We solve the deficit and the energy crisis in one fell swoop.

  • Mike||

    Now, see, that alt-text could have at least had a Don Quixote reference or something.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I will gladly trade the jobs of others for a policy that will make me feel good, even if that feeling only lasts until the next social/economic/environmental injustice rears its ugly head.

  • Hooha||

    Liberal ideology in a nutshell. +1

  • ||

    Since the idea of a carbon tax (even a net zero one doesn't get much love it seems, maybe too dificult to understand?) has been so demonized, we are moving on to worse and worse ideas.

    Oh well, I imagine the world won't really end just like it didn't when we passed the Clean Air and Water acts. It will just be a bit more inefficent.

  • ||

    Since the idea of a carbon tax (even a net zero one doesn't get much love it seems, maybe too dificult to understand?) has been so demonized, we are moving on to worse and worse ideas.

    Oh well, I imagine the world won't really end just like it didn't when we passed the Clean Air and Water acts. It will just be a bit more inefficent.

  • IceTrey||

    This is so fucking stupid.
    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors.
    A crash program could convert all electrical generation to LFTR in a generation.

    http://energyfromthorium.com/

  • ||

    Do you really care about what kind of energy is being used? We just want cheap, competitive markets.

    If you are a progressive experiencing white middle-class guilt about the environment, then try this antidote:

    Eco Points , by Al gore. Basically they are indulgences for the non-religious moron. Feel better soon!

  • Some Guy||

    Look no further than paper companies. They make vastly more from subsidies on the waste products of making paper than on paper itself.

  • e3livelife2thefullest||

    not all of our greatest solutions to environmental pollution will enable entrepreneurs to make bank. If I was to say that a corporations right to profit stops where my right to breath and drink clean air and water begin, libertarians and conservatives would be raising their hands in the air. It is true that libertarians have a tendency to care more about money than principles...sorry to bust your chops there.

    Libertarians, I've learned, by and large, have little regard for mother earth, but care only about human nature, as if they still assume that humans are the crown jewel of the earth. I have 2 letters for those who assume that to be human means to be the best...BP! I have another 2 words for you which enabled BP to wreck my back yard (the Gulf Coast)...self regulation!!! Due to BP's horrid history of environmental disregard, such as it's dumping of waste in Alaska North Slope, the Texas City Chemical Leak, and the numerous safety violations it has occured over the years, no one can say that de-regulation/self-regulation will keep our waters safe. Of course, the government can do no better either...but when it comes to Big Oil drilling in very sensitive areas, that sort of thing needs to be banned...period! With wind, solar, nuclear and geothermal, what need have we really to use oil and coal!!!

    If asked how it can all be done...just do it! You don't have to see the whole entire staircase, just take the first step in faith. If you can see that we all live here on this amazing planet, that we all breath the same air, and drink the same water, and that no one corporation has the right to do what BP has done, then it should follow that all oil companies need to be boycotted...period!!! The fact is that Big Business, like Big Gov, has a tendency to stand in the way of progress, not just technologically, but ethically, which is the most urgent concern now...the branch of philosophy that discusses how we treat each other. As Friedman said...the sole social responsibility of a business is to increase it's profits...

    ...that is soooooo wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Friedman needs to stop reading too much Darwin...Darwin was wrong about a great many thing...too many people believe that we are just selfish animals that will beat each other down while keeping its eyes on the prize, when the facts say otherwise...selfishness as a virtue has had it's day, and the consequences of self-serving behavior on behalf of Tony Hayward (who wants his life back so he can go to the boat races), and other big oil peeps show that, maybe...just maybe...Rand was wrong!!!!

    I know Peikoff and Stossel would hang me, and let them. Competition is a good thing. Make no mistake about it, however, big oil, with the help of big gov, tilts the playing field to its favor, allowing itself to grow disproportionately rich at the expense of our ecosystems. No doubt that, to be human is to pollute...but no single human being, or even the masses of humans, have the potential to do what British Petrol did...all big oil is a scam to the fullest!!! Tony Hayward should be arrested, his accounts and assets seized, and put in prison for life!!! Unless a miracle happens, I'll have no Fort Lauderdale beach to go to...the toxins in the air could pollute my local water and food supply, forcing me to spend even more money on bottled water (the plastic being made from...you guessed it), and on gas masks for everytime I go outside!!!
    All big oil companies need to be reigned in, they should be absolutely stripped of their rights to be considered as individual persons! We pay them so much money, and what they give us in return isn't worth the locomotion and the consumer products their petrol gives us!!! Big Oil needs to be put out of business, hands down!!! Libertarians, you have every reason to support clean and free energy, there are more important things in life than your account balance!!! Your ethical commitments, your respect for your fellow man, your reverence for all of life is being put on trial here!!! Allow the Paul Stamets, and all the geniuses with such respect for us all, to do what they know is right for all of life, rather than thinking that Kevin Costner is going to do any good.

    If you have any sense of sanity at all, stop it with such short term thinking, and remember that your kids and theirs will live here too!

    Stop being so immature, and consider the lives, the health and the well being of the rest of us...the planet doesn't belong to the capitalist, the banker and the bureaucrat!!! We all live here!!! Our lives actually do matter, whether you like it or not!!!

    The moral of the story here, Mister and Misses Libertarians is...develope a moral conscience that includes all of life!!!

    Therefore, don't shit crude where we all eat, don't fart benzine where we all breath, don't piss toxic chemicals where we all drink!!! Have some manners...and some respect!!!

  • skr||

    HAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!111111!!1

    Thanks, that made my day.

  • Almanian||

    Did "e3livelife2thefullest" say something? That is the longest post...

  • Urkobold™||

    THE URKOBOLD RAPED MOTHER EARTH ONCE. BUT HE GOT OFF, BECAUSE SHE'S A SLUT.

  • Almanian||

    Just ask N'Orleans

  • Urkobold™||

    ALSO A WHORE.

  • Fritz Perls||

    e3livelife2thefullest,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • e3livelife2thefullest||

    @ mister fritz perls...you DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO YOUR THING...when 'your thing' would be creating excessive pollution that effects our health! You got that Mr Perls??? There is no such thing as the right to 'do your thing' when that 'thing you do' is dump your chemicals in our water!!!
    If you enter into MY backyard, you DO have to meet MY expectations...that you do not do ANY harm to the water!!! It doesn't matter what you are! What you are not, is the toxic dump that you leave behind!!!
    So, you say I am not here to live up to your expectations. Fine. So, if I go to your house, and you expect me to respect your life and property, then I really don't have to live up to those expectations huh?
    Wow! I can just treat you like shit, because I don't have to live up to your expectations???
    Come on Mr. Perls...gimme something better!

  • Fritz Perls||

    Should others live up to your expectations? Why?

  • Don||

    I think you may be ignorant of many of the libertarian options out there that would alleviate some of your concerns.

    There is not just one "libertarian" position. Don't automatically assume that we all follow the most extreme position. Everyone cares about clean air and water and wants companies to not pollute and to clean it up and pay damages when they do.

  • Allen||

    "big oil, with the help of big gov, tilts the playing field to its favor, allowing itself to grow disproportionately rich at the expense of our ecosystems"

    Yes, exactly why we are against the Progressives and Demos and Repubs. favoring businesses and limiting their liability like they did in the Gulf.

  • Brian||

    e3livelife2thefullest-

    The word "fucktard" was created especially for you.

  • irregular joe||

    The moral of the story here, Mister and Misses Libertarians is...develope a moral conscience that includes all of life!!!

    I have a conscience, it is you who is dead set on fucking over the most people possible at a given time. That has been the substance of every leftist pogrom since the French Revolution. Why would anyone think this scheme is any different than the ones you have polluted the last few centuries of human history.

    I don't trust you.
    I don't trust your schemes.
    The good news, none of them are going anywhere because outside a few theoretical circles and a few libertarian and conservative websites giving you voice in order to drive page hits with fear, carbon taxes and energy rationing is flat busted. You are going to get boondoggles, wasted resources and bureaucratic paper shuffling jobs galore, at least, until the budget freeze hits. But that was all the Democrats were after anyway. Most are smart enough to wound the golden egg to miscarriage but not to kill it. There are very few politicians outside Crazy Town who are not aware of that.

    The radical reorganization of modern society that you losers crave is just not going to happen even if you could argue from the standpoint of the most effecient means. The people are not serfs who are thinking anything is better than their current condition. They will fight tooth and claw have that which is their want, and you assholes are delusional if you think you can stand in our way.

  • irregular joe||

    Pardon the missing prepostions and 'egg' for 'goose', dear reader. I'm working on a bottle of Goose from a case I bought at a whole sale distributor.
    Life is fucking good in the USofA even if motherfuckers like Chad don't know it.

  • Fritz Perls||

    irregular joe,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • qwerty||

    OMG! I used to not care at all about the Earth! You changed me! You did it!

    YEAH!

  • ||

    Libertarians, I've learned, by and large, have little regard for mother earth, but care only about human nature, as if they still assume that humans are the crown jewel of the earth.

    Humans ARE the crown jewel of the Earth, so far. If your philosophy does not include this as admitted fact, then your philosophy is wrong.

    Humans created this 'Earth' thing you talk about. Without humans there would be no 'Earth'. There might be a wet rock in the third orbit out from this star with life in the green scum that grows in the water on it's surface--but it wouldn't be 'Earth'.

  • ||

    Friedman needs to stop reading too much Darwin...

    I can assure you that Mr. Friedman has stopped reading Darwin.

  • ||

    I can assure you that Mr. Friedman has stopped reading Darwin.

    With the noticable handicap of being deceased, Mr. Friedman no longer is excited about the natural sciences.

    Friedman and Zhuangzi now spend their afternoons trying to figure out why the butterfly never solved the credit crisis, or even offered any ideas.....

  • Catnap||

    What’s significant about the fact that “each solar power job cost $240,000”? I have a feeling that this number would be high for any capital -intensive industry (such as energy). A higher cost-per-job number could also simply reflect a high degree of atomization (ie, there simply aren’t many jobs). This number doesn’t seem to mean that much by itself.

  • Chad||

    Counting jobs is a silly endeavor. When you are buying capital, one way or the other, you are creating jobs somewhere along the supply chain. There is no way to track it, so why bother.

    When we buy a thousand solar panels, how many jobs do we create for fractional university administrators that have to oversee fractional increase in graduate students studying some minuscule widget that is part of the panels? I don't know, and neither does anyone else.

  • ||

    Chad|7.13.10 @ 10:51PM|#
    "Counting jobs is a silly endeavor. When you are buying capital, one way or the other, you are creating jobs somewhere along the supply chain. There is no way to track it, so why bother."
    Uh, because some jobs create wealth and others drain it off.
    I'll bet you find that surprising.

  • Tony||

    Why is it the only macroeconomic thing libertarians care about is whether wealth is created or "drained off"? It doesn't even mean anything. Wealth for whom?

  • Tony||

    Granted some of you don't care. Depressions with a quarter of the population out of work is just one of those things the market gods occasionally require of us.

  • ||

    Tony|7.13.10 @ 11:37PM|#
    "Granted some of you don't care. Depressions with a quarter of the population out of work is just one of those things the market gods occasionally require of us."
    Granted that when Tony has no argument of facts, Tony posts a brain-dead non-sequitor.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Does it bother you that they don't care? Why?

  • ||

    Tony|7.13.10 @ 11:32PM|#
    "Why is it the only macroeconomic thing libertarians care about is whether wealth is created or "drained off"? It doesn't even mean anything. Wealth for whom?"
    Uh, for you? So that you don't have to wear the clothes that were handed down to you by your parents?
    How ignorant of history are you?

  • Tony||

    Hum, libertarian-esque economic policy has just concentrated wealth at the top. Every incremental policy change you guys have supported for at least the last half century has had this effect. So it's not wealth for me. I guarantee you having full employment is way more important to overall wealth and economic health than a few plutocrats playing with their money.

  • ||

    But when we had full employment you guys called it a disaster. So what gives?

  • Fritz Perls||

    Do you want wealth for you? Why?

  • Bill||

    I think the point is that some types of power don't need to be subsidized (or would have much lower ones) and so would not cost any money. The plant would make money. And if it costs that much money per job, the argument that you are going to help the economy by creating all kinds of green jobs falls apart. I agree with you that this number needs to be put in some kind of context (and verified).

  • ||

    "Libertarians, I've learned, by and large, have little regard for mother earth, but care only about human nature, as if they still assume that humans are the crown jewel of the earth"

    Human beings are, and always will be, the crown jewel of the earth. Make no mistake about that, pal.

    Let me get a little metaphysical on you since you don't seem to care about reason or logic.

    If human beings did not exist and did not interpret the earth, the world, and the universe.. would those things still even exist? Can you prove that the earth exists independently of your consciousness? If they do exist outside of human thought, and we ceased to exist, then what would be the ultimate point of earth?

    Human arrogance? You bet! I understand the vast compendium of the human experience, and what life would be without us here to piss toxins into the mouth of god and mother earth. Be glad these toxins exist… it means chemists exist, which means medicine exists.. things that you can buy to clear up your acne on the shelves of an air-conditioned convenient store on a hot greasy-faced afternoon….

    Aesthetically speaking, I like snowy mountains and aurora borealis… on postcards…but it pales in comparison to human architecture and technology.

  • ||

    Drunk Punk|7.13.10 @ 10:27PM|#
    "Libertarians, I've learned, by and large, have little regard for mother earth, but care only about human nature, as if they still assume that humans are the crown jewel of the earth"
    Human beings are, and always will be, the crown jewel of the earth. Make no mistake about that, pal."

    Not sure about 'always will be', but there is no doubt that "value" is both measured and created by humans.
    What watermellons define as "nature" didn't give a hoot when dinos went extinct, in spite of the 'natural beauty' of the things.
    If you're to claim that X part of 'nature' has value other than human claims of value, you're spouting one religion or the other.
    BTW, to be clear, I'm arguing with Drunk Punk only on the claim of 'forever'. Could well be some other species in the future. And they'd probably resent us 'preserving' Condors, for instance.

  • skr||

    all those things are words meaningful only because of human conciousness and when human consciuosness ceases to exist, so will the words and their meaning.

  • ||

    all those things are words meaningful only because of human conciousness and when human consciuosness ceases to exist, so will the words and their meaning.

    Exactly.

    The point I was trying to make to our eco-friend (that apparently rejects the human condition) is that there is no other reason to "save the planet" but for our own interest, just as doing harm to it to better ourselves is in our own interest.

    Any modification we have made to the planet earth exists either because one of our experiments have failed, or because they were successfull. Asserting that "we have regard for mother earth, and you only regard for human nature" is fine only if you are willing to continue living in a state of unexamined contradiction. Many people do....

    Just be careful playing in the realm of science, because someone will double check your "facts", and it will more than likely offend you, resulting in a token liberal tantrum. So, unless you are a masochist, I would drop the self-righteous eco-chanting bullshit.

  • John Stagliano||

    We should all worship the Aphrodite Kallipygos. That's my idea of Mother Earth!

  • ||

    Our lives actually do matter, whether you like it or not!!!

    No, actually they do not. There is no point to your existence, or mine. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you'll stop crying and start living the remainder of your pointless, worthless little life.

  • skr||

    silly nihilist

  • ||

    Being silly helps us evade the fact that our lives, on the grand scheme of things, are meaningless.

    Think of your life as a bad acid trip: the more you try to fight the absurdity of what you see, the worse it will get. Laugh, relax, and go with it.

  • ||

    Here's Chad's initial claim:
    Chad|7.13.10 @ 5:27PM|#
    I do, however, know of a libertarian or two (or a million) who ignores the many solutions to this problem."

    Note the claim of "many solutions". I called his bullshit, and Chad responds with this:
    "IT'S A 27 BILLION GALLON PURPLE UNICORN!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....ower_Plant"
    Uh, Chad, it's *one* example from Wiki (of all places), which won an award in *1973*! That's right up there with the tech that gave us, oh, the Chrysler New Yorker Brougham!
    And then you claim:
    "(Never in my life did I expect to use the phrase "billion gallon purple unicorn" to smack someone silly in an argument...thanks Ron!)"
    Well, there's a reason you shouldn't have expected that; you haven't and probably won't.
    Brain-deads tend to remain brain-deads.

  • Fritz Perls||

    When Chad said he wanted to smack you silly, how did you feel?

  • J_L_B||

    In this memoirs, Alan Greenspan suggested a very light carbon tax. He reasoned the tax would end the profitablity of activities which produced vast amounts of carbon, but little economic value. Eliminating little value/high polluting activities would have the most effect on pollution and least effect on the economy.

  • ||

    In this memoirs, Alan Greenspan suggested a very light carbon tax.

    Which would, in due course, become a heavy carbon tax. Sorry, Al, no sale.

  • ||

    Which would, in due course, become a heavy carbon tax. Sorry, Al, no sale.

    Undoubtedly. The cigarette tax demonstrates this quite fairly, I believe. When they first introduced the tax in Maryland, nobody even noticed it. Now Marylanders spend $403.05 million in cigarette tax per year. Anything that is "lightly" taxed, will become obscenely taxed, without question.

  • ||

    You people must really be bored. Why would you ever reply to a shit head like Chad?

  • Fritz Perls||

    Wegie,

    Repeat the following mantra to yourself before posting:

    I do my thing and you do your thing.

    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    (Fritz Perls, 1969)

  • e3livelife2thefullest||

    Even the title of this article is sketchy...for it is the monopolies that force us into using coal and oil!!! They'll actually make it difficult to use solar and other power sources!!!

  • ||

    Pessimistic meta-induction. Coal and Oil were once viable resources that humanity believed to be successfull and harmless; just like solar and "other [green] power sources" will eventually become antiquated. My point is, why put your faith in something that will eventually earn the same amount of scorn as the things you scorn today?

  • CSI||

    Of course "renewables" can't substitute for fossil fuel. Fossil fuels are cheap, convenient, concentrated energy. Renewables are expensive, diffuse, weak energy. Our society is wholly dependent on the cheap, concentrated energy fossil fuels provide. It cannot function on renewable energy. Sad but true.

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

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