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Energy execs speak to Sci Am

Green-gadget energy: sticker shock coming

Scientific American has interviewed several high ranking officials in the energy industry, one of whom is Bob Gates, a senior vice president at Clipper Wind Power, a maker of wind turbine generators.  You can link the Gates interview here.

Mr. Gates came close to being candid about the heavy liabilities involved in wind power.  He notes that you can’t turn it on at will, which is true, but he mistakenly says you can turn on coal and gas at will, which is not necessarily true.  There are technical reasons why you can’t just click a mouse and put a million horsepower of coal generation on line.  What this means is that the existing power infrastructure will have to be maintained and operated at a low level just to make it possible to keep the green gadgets available.  This is why, as I have written previously, every windmill added to the grid drives prices a little bit higher.

Mr. Gates also admits, obliquely, sorta kinda, that wind generation depends on government subsidies.  It’s simply not financially competitive on its own.  And he’s not above asking for more subsidies, and huge ones.  He wants transmission lines installed all over the midwest.  These transmission lines would not be there to serve customers, but rather to serve the wind turbines.  Get it?  The loads are already connected in cities, towns, and rural spaces all over the country.  But if you want to put in a lot of wind turbines in remote regions of Kansas and South Dakota, you’ll need to drag ten thousands of miles of extension cords all over America.  Here’s what he’s not telling you: He doesn’t want to pay for the lines himself and he doesn’t (yet) own the property they’ll sit on.  We haven’t even gotten started counting that money yet, but it’s going to hurt.  To make up for it, I’ll give you a stock tip.  If the government ever gets truly committed to wind power, you should invest in companies that build transmission line equipment because it’ll be fat city for them.

I’m sure these are well-intended people and highly proficient engineers.  But they aren’t putting in wind farms.  They’re putting in tax farms and hoping the government will compel you to buy their product no matter what it costs.

Brutally frank assessment from Progress Energy

Bill Johnson is the president of Progress EnergyHis interview with Scientific American included a literal money quote.  And this should make you hop out of your chair in alarm.

We are in a transition in our industry from a lowest-cost production model to a model based on least environmental impact. That change will be the driver of future prices.

Are you hearing anything about this from the Democrats who are driving America’s energy bus over a cliff?  If the mainstream news media are reporting on the price tag of subjugating the economy to a band of environmental extremists, I haven’t heard about it.  True, the guys running your utility should get a little louder in their warnings about cost.  That’s especially true here in Florida where a modest rate hike to pay for the real green power source, nuclear energy, was rolled back because of public outcry.  The real culprit here is the Fourth Estate, liberal to the core and ignorant of this subject (but I repeat myself), which cannot stop sweating Mr. Obama’s pectorals long enough to ask any serious questions about his policies and their likely results.

So I repeat the question I asked a couple of days ago:  Republicans?  Where are you?

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