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Greenlee: Get Green! Get Real!

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.

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. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article the Energy Information Administration (EIA) -- an independent federal agency -- around $16.6 billion in direct subsidies, tax breaks, loan guarantees and the like was spent last year in propping up wind and solar "green" energy. To determine what these subsidies mean in terms of actual energy production one needs to determine what it costs to produce a specific unit of electricity. The Journal article indicates that the EIA has discovered that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour and wind gets $23.37. Advocates still think "green" energy production doesn't get enough in the way of subsidies even although they've been... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

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. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article the Energy Information Administration (EIA) -- an independent federal agency -- around $16.6 billion in direct subsidies, tax breaks, loan guarantees and the like was spent last year in propping up wind and solar "green" energy. To determine what these subsidies mean in terms of actual energy production one needs to determine what it costs to produce a specific unit of electricity. The Journal article indicates that the EIA has discovered that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour and wind gets $23.37. Advocates still think "green" energy production doesn't get enough in the way of subsidies even although they've been on the dole for decades.

With all the hype, subsidies, and wishful thinking, wind represents less than 1 percent of our total electric production. New solar technologies to produce electricity are promising but unproven when it comes to satisfying both on and off-peak requirements. Besides, not every city or town in the country would support building huge solar or wind farms close to them-we're still a nation of "not-in-my-backyarders." Nor is every place appropriate for solar systems or conducive to building a wind farm. In both cases transmitting electrical power from where it's produced to where it's used costs around $2 million per mile-if you can get permission to build the infrastructure necessary to bring the power to where it's needed.

Recent press reports tout how Denmark today gets around 20 percent of its electricity from wind power. What they failed to report is that nearly 80 percent of that power is exported to other countries. 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 and our current state of technology is lagging when it comes to making wind and solar systems more efficient as well as reliable.

And then there's conservation. For many folks the answer to our future electric energy dilemma is as simple as declaring that conservation provides the solution. Using energy efficient lighting and appliances along with better insulated homes and apartments are all part of the "green" solution many seek. There's no doubt conservation is important and worthwhile and plays a role although there are costs associated with every conceivable solution. As long as we're willing to pay the price, as well as change our lifestyles, we might be on our way to achieving the goals and objectives many seek.

Sure, we need to rid ourselves of fossil fuels. We can no longer depend on foreign energy sources although we continue to be timid when it comes to encouraging domestic production. But there's another potential answer to our non fossil-fueled electric energy future. It's nuclear power that already provides more than 20 percent of our base electric production in the United States and up to 70 percent or more in some European countries. It's the logical answer to our needs despite the sweaty-palms of those who swoon at the mere mention of nukes. Getting green must also mean getting real.

Bob Greenlee was a member of Boulder City Council for 16 years and served his last 2 years as mayor. He can be reached at: robertdgreenlee@aol.com .


Source: http://www.dailycamera.com/...

JUN 15 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/15492-greenlee-get-green-get-real
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