Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cracks in the Economics of Renewables Myth

This has been an amazing week with a significant shift in the perceived ECONOMICS of renewables.  The myth (lie) that solar and wind are too expensive is starting to fall apart.  The blockbuster decision this week by Georgia’s Public Service Commission to force Georgia Power to add 525 megawatts of solar by 2016 is a major step (an economic step) forward, and will lead to the revelations that renewables are/will be truly affordable, cost effective, and environmentally sustainable.
The powers that be, namely the Koch brothers, Exxon, Fox News, etc. have for years pushed the lies and misstatements.  In Georgia last week, Americans For Prosperity-GA, the nation’s premiere grassroots organization for promoting “economic freedom,” launched a project asking activists to urge PSC members to “Keep The Lights On In Georgia” by opposing renewable energy mandates that have been shown to raise the cost of electricity.
After the Commission voted 3-2 in favor of renewables, “Georgia Power, in a surprising about-face, backed off that argument on Thursday after months of making that case. Instead, its attorney said for the first time that the added solar likely wouldn’t affect power bills.”  Yowie Zowie!
In another surprise move, “Xcel’s Southwestern Public Service unit is asking regulators for permission to buy almost 700 megawatts of power from wind farms in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.  The deal will save customers $590 million in fuel expenses over 20 years and the wind farms will generate power at costs lower than most of Xcel’s natural gas plants, according to Riley Hill, president and chief executive officer of Southwestern Public Service. “We are making these acquisitions purely on economics and the savings we can deliver to our customers,” Hill said in the statement.” WOW!  Saving money for its customers with renewables?  What a concept!
The “conservatives” fight against renewables has been going on for the last 30 years and more.  They fear the loss of profits by the status quo because the fuel is FREE!  No money to be made in exploration, extraction, transportation, processing, more transportation, and finally in some retail sales.  Less cost to the consumer…less profit.
In another arena this week, Republicans in the House blocked a bill to increase light bulb efficiency.  Again, the efficient use of energy, saving energy, means less profit for the fossil energy giants.  It’s all about money, and as my friend says “follow the money!”
So, today, we’ve taken another small step in the right direction…seems like we’re taking more and more larger steps…but we still  have a long way to go.

Some interesting insights:
  1. Another of the Koch brother’s organizations:
  2. Fear for the traditional electricity producers:
  3. A nice summary of the anti-renewables campaigns:
  4. More on the Koch brothers:
  5. Our democracy in full action:
  6. Energy efficiency?  One of the basic problem sets I had my students do was a cost analysis between a 100 watt incandescent light bulb and a 23 watt compact florescent.  Basic math!  Things have even gotten better.

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