Energy Policy and Colorado
Renewable energy may be a popular catch phrase along Colorado's urban Front Range, but it has turned into fighting words across much of rural Colorado. Not because rural communities are against it, to the extent it makes economic sense, but because they're about to be force-fed an overdose by state Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.
It is sad in these rough economic times that our single-party Colorado state government would impose a law that has the same effect as a tax increase on its people by passing expensive legislation cleverly introduced under the cover of environmental benefit. This just does not make common sense.
A Democratic bill to boost the renewable energy standard in rural Colorado is being rushed through the legislature. Its sponsors should slow down and consider making it less onerous. ...Because they weren't involved in drafting the bill, Tri-State quickly calculated it would cost them between $2 billion and $4 billion to meet the new standard.
Colorado is widely recognized for its wind-power capabilities, but even there, wind power is inconsistent and undependable. Studies by Bentek Energy, which examined energy deployment in Texas and Colorado, found that emissions of pollutants actually increase with RES because wind requires backup generation by fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
"Cleaner air and cheaper energy" was the slogan when voters mandated wind and other renewable sources for 10 percent of the state's electric generation with Amendment 37 in 2004. Democratic legislators liked the idea so much that they upped the mandate to 20 percent in 2007 and boosted it this year to 30 percent.
One small problem: Neither half of the slogan is true.
The stimulus package passed by Congress in February included almost $80 billion for renewable energy, energy efficiency, mass transit, updating the electrical grid and research.
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has made production, development, and delivery of renewable energy one of his department's highest priorities. But the government's focus on using public lands for power generation is not the best solution for our solar energy needs. There is a better way.
In the 20 years I have lived in Colorado, I have seen the transition from a growing, functional economy into an economy that increasingly relies on obscure, "politically correct" subsidies such as solar- and wind-power generation that are touted as solutions to our economic woes. ...these partisan policies are undermining Colorado's economy.
Democrats can't get to Denver without dumping carbon into the air.
They're washing away the sins of transportation and electrification by purchasing carbon offsets from a Vermont-based broker called NativeEnergy. ...This modern-day indulgence is officially called the "Green Delegate Challenge." For a mere $7.50, delegates and attendees can buy a carbon offset, making them at least theoretically responsible for new alternative energy. They can then forget about the emissions from jets, limos, buses, trains and taxis they take to Denver. They also can flash the lights, crank up the soundstages and rock 'n' roll like the dominant force they've become with that rhetoric about saving the planet.
For an East Coast liberal hoping to make it to Denver for next month's Democratic National Convention, air or car travel can create quite the carbon-foot printed nightmare. While the DNCC has attempted to help limit the number of guilty consciences by offering to sell delegates carbon credits alleged to help offset damage to mother earth, it turns out that a primary source of these credits is a sham. ...an eastern Colorado wind turbine "tapped for the [DNC's] carbon-offset problem has one problem: It doesn't generate any electricity."
If local citizens want to assuage their guilt about energy use and carbon footprints they must first prepare themselves for a few simple inconvenient truths. That's because some wind and solar true believers conveniently dispense with rational discussion concerning what's possible to achieve in meeting future electric energy needs along with what it will cost to make significant gains.
Were it not for the huge taxpayer subsidies the "green" revolution promised for wind and solar would not be possible. ...
Our Department of Energy wants to achieve that 20 percent goal by the year 2030 and some States even want a more ambitious goal. Fortunately there are people who recognize that in order to achieve these goals we will need to build twice as much capacity because it isn't always windy where it needs to be.
These days we read and hear more and more about the exponential increases in renewable energy, particularly large wind farms such as those sprouting up on Colorado's front range and eastern plains. Colorado's Amendment 37 requires the state's largest utility companies to produce 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. A subsequent legislative action doubled that to 20 percent by 2020. ...This is all great news, right? Not if you are an independent grid system operator, and not if you're expecting all of this large scale wind power to help reduce global warming carbon emissions.
Wind power is by nature a notoriously intermittent source of power. Wind simply doesn't blow steadily all of the time. Therefore, the power output of all large scale wind farms goes up and down dramatically throughout the day, regardless of the demand for power on the grid. ...Without energy diversity, the more renewable power we mandate, the more unreliable the grid will become. The laws of physics simply can't be amended.
Colorado is vulnerable due to its current low prices is in its efforts to implement renewable energy solutions. While other states, including California and Massachusetts, take on large scale efforts for wind, solar and other renewable and clean energy production opportunities, the low cost of energy in Colorado makes these energy investments by utilities, private companies, and Colorado residents, not economically viable when compared to the current low cost of traditional fossil fuel based energy in Colorado.
This means that, in spite of our Governor's strong emphasis on making Colorado the renewable energy state, current low prices for traditional energy hinder Coloradans, our venture capital sector, and our companies from jumping on this clean energy bandwagon with significant investment.
Reserve generating capacity, normally 10 percent to 15 percent, could be down to 1 percent or zero percent in some places, and Yale professor Charles Perrow, who follows power-supply shortfalls, says "I'm prepared to see many more blackouts occurring. . . . it's really going to be a freight train running into disaster."
This is not an encouraging scenario, to say the least. ...Here is one decisive piece of realism: Coal supplies more than 50 percent of U.S. electricity and more than 80 percent of Colorado's electricity. Due to its abundance and price stability, coal will - and must - continue to be a major source in meeting U.S. and world electricity demand for decades to come. While proponents of alternative energy are often adamant in their rejection of coal as a continued long-term energy resource, reality dictates otherwise. To dismiss this reality is simply dangerous - dangerous to long-term energy supply and price stability.
When the country thinks about its energy problems, it often focuses on our dependence on foreign oil and the recent high prices of gasoline. Petroleum provides 40 percent of our energy and is particularly vulnerable to geopolitical swings in unstable regions of the world.
But utility executives worry that Americans are failing to appreciate another aspect of the energy picture, namely that the power plants using coal, natural gas and nuclear power to produce electricity may soon not meet our growing needs.
"My biggest fear is that we are running out of generation," said Michael G. Morris, chairman and chief executive of American Electric Power, with 5 million customers in 11 states. "That is an issue that the average person doesn't know a thing about. When we tell corporate America, they say, 'What do you mean you're running out of power?"'
The executives' concern is echoed by the North American Electric Reliability Council, which last week said in its annual report that in two to three years, the margin between power supply and demand will drop below levels necessary for reliability in Texas, the Northeast and the Midwest. Other parts of the country could reach that point in the next decade.
DENVER - The House passed and sent to the Senate a bill that attempts to lure more wind farms to northeastern Colorado. The vote was 54-9 earlier this week.
Wind energy is environmentally harmful and costly to taxpayers. Furthermore, its expansion could adversely affect the nation's electricity transmission system.