The Green Strategy Behind Solar and Wind

Groups supporting wind turbines, PV solar and concentrating solar have been very successful.

The purported underlying motive of these groups is to cut CO2 emissions by replacing fossil fuels with so-called renewables, but rather than campaigning to cut CO2 emissions, their campaigns have touted “Clean Energy” to appeal to everyone’s instincts to be good stewards of the environment1.

Wind Turbine. Photo by D. Dears
Wind Turbine. Photo by D. Dears

 

The “Green” strategy for cutting CO2 emissions, involves four key components, which utilizes a well known push-pull market development concept.

Unfortunately, the strategy hurts Americans.

The four key components of the strategy are:

  • Subsidies and grants
  • Net metering
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)
  • Political advocacy

The political advocacy component targets both federal and state levels of government.

At the federal level:

  • Advocacy groups have promoted subsidies, either through legislation or through grants by various departments, on the premise that these new technologies needed support while they were in their infancy2.
  • Subsidies were enacted by Congress, while grants have been issued by the Department of Energy, etc.
  • The only failure thus far of the advocacy groups has been in not getting legislation adopting an RPS for the entire United States3. However, key Democrat Senators introduced two new Bills in October, S1595 and S1627, to establish a nationwide RPS4.

At the state level:

  • Advocacy groups promoted subsidies, net metering and renewable portfolio standards, and have had very important wins. Thirty states have adopted a mandatory RPS, while 44 states have adopted net metering.

Subsidies, net metering and grants provide the push behind building wind and solar installations. They provide the money, without which wind and solar installations wouldn’t be built, because they cannot compete with conventional electricity sources.

RPS provided the pull, by mandating that utilities use renewables5.

While the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) lobbyists, was the backbone of these efforts at the federal level, a myriad of national and local environmental (“Green”) organizations (e.g. the Sierra Club), with support from AWEA, provided the impetus behind getting state legislatures to pass state subsidies, net metering and an RPS.

These same groups are now targeting states to allow third parties to install PV roof top solar units, which will allow companies, not homeowners, to install PV solar installations and reap the gains from net metering, subsidies, accelerated depreciation, etc.

In states where third parties have been allowed to own PV systems and lease them to homeowners, it has dramatically increased the number of PV solar installations. [See Green Pickpockets ]

Environmental advocacy groups have become very powerful, with tentacles spread across the United States.

Unfortunately, their efforts have usually been to the detriment of the average American the average business, and the environment6.

The “Green” advocacy groups have lined the pockets of builders and corporations building wind farms and solar installations, while increasing the cost of electricity for all Americans, including businesses and industry, which rely on low cost electricity to create jobs.

Subsidies and grants have come from the pockets of hard-working American taxpayers and ratepayers and flowed to developers and manufacturers … or stated differently, from the poor to the rich.

The cost of electricity will continue to increase as state RPS’ result in ever higher percentages of electricity produced by renewables. California, for example, has mandated that around one-third of its electricity come from renewables by 2020.

The situation is essentially the same for all 30 states having an RPS, though the mandated percentage and date for reaching it will vary. Illinois, for example, has a 25% RPS requirement for 2025, while in 2012 the mandated requirement was only 6%.

Illinois consumers can expect, under the current law, to see their bills for electricity increase annually through 2025.

The RPS forces states to use electricity produced by wind and solar, and consumers must foot the bill.

The number of technologies requiring subsidies will also increase, thereby increasing the flow of money from individual Americans to developers and manufacturers.

For example, renewables will need storage if they are to be grid compatible, and developing storage technologies will require more subsidies and grants7.

Wind and solar have benefitted from the push provided by the money coming from subsidies, grants, net metering, etc., while the RPS has provided the pull that forces many states to increase the amount of electricity generated from wind and solar, etc.

Media reports typically focus on the benefits, or failings, of a single technology, such as wind, and fail to address the underlying strategy for forcing the adoption of these technologies across America.

Each report should be viewed in the context of the underlying strategy.

Understanding the strategy of these “Green” organizations to cut CO2 emissions, may help legislators, and the average American, repel the “Green” attack on their pocket books.

 

Notes:

  1. Despite the purported claim that this is about CO2, not a single RPS state has: 1) done an assessment to verify wind energy CO2 claims, or 2) instituted a monitoring program that verifies that CO2 is actually being saved. Studies by independent sources have concluded that the actual amount of CO2 saved by using wind energy, is trivial. Of course, wind proponents dispute this — yet they insist that detailed wind operational data is proprietary, thereby guaranteeing that the truth will stay hidden.
  2. For this discussion, subsidies, grants and loans have been lumped together. Ideally, loans would be repaid. Grants are outright “gifts” to support new technologies. Also included are special tax treatments, such as accelerated depreciation.
  3. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) have also been referred to as Renewable Electricity Standards (RES).
  4. Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2013 (S.1595), and American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (S.1627)
  5. States with RPS laws mandate that utilities provide an ever increasing amount of electricity generated from wind, solar or geothermal. Many states exclude hydro as a renewable technology.
  6. A few homeowners have been able to take advantage of PV roof-top solar installations to lower their electricity bills. While this initially benefits a few, it can’t work if it becomes widespread. [See Green Pickpockets ]
  7. Beacon Power that builds fly-wheel storage, for example, received a $43 million DOE loan, as well as a grant from Massachusetts.

 

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