April 23, 2011

The Price of Green

Marc Comtois

The Rhode Island supreme court decided that Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. have standing (decision here) to challenge the Public Utility Commission's approval for Deepwater Wind to build a wind farm off of Block Island. Michael McElroy, lawyer for the companies, explains (in the dead-tree version of this morning's ProJo) why this is important:

We're pleased with the court's decision to review the merits of the PUC's majority approval of the purchase power agreement, especially in light of the fact that National GZrid has recently increased its estimate of the above-market costs of this project from $390 million to between $409 million and $415 million.
As Alex Kuffner of the Journal explains:
The estimates of the above-market costs increased because the cost of natural gas, which provides a third of New England's power, has gone down because of increased supplies. The starting price in the Deepwater contract is 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour, more than three times the price that National Grid charges Rhode Island consumer through its standard offer rate.
So, to clear it up, the lower energy prices go, the more subsidy (ie; rate-payer's money) will have to go towards keeping Deepwater Wind "viable." What a great deal. Wind power is promising and should be tried where it is economically feasible. Massive subsidization on the backs of economically troubled Rhode Islanders is hardly the way to go. At least there's still a chance (even if it's a small one) that, thanks to these companies, Rhode Islander's won't be stuck with the higher bills.

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The other night, I watched "Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps", the sequel to the 1987 "Wall Street"

There is a lot of rehashing of the then current housing bubble and former bubbles, back to "Tulip mania". There are several comments that "Green Energy" is the current "bubble". That could very well be the case, all the signs of a bubble are there. There is a fevered, almost religious, belief it will be our salvation. All currently available technology is depreciated and there is a belief that better technology is just around the corner, if only we throw enough money at it. When we have suffered enough with the current situation, we will all see the light (doubtless powered by windmills). All objections are dismissed as troglodidic, similar to the attitude taken last year to those who "denied" Global Warming. Meanwhile GM Volts, and Nissan Leafs, explode, burn and require a $12,000 government subsidy.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 23, 2011 1:07 PM

" the lower energy prices go, the more subsidy (ie; rate-payer's money) will have to go towards keeping Deepwater Wind "viable.""


And to what end?? Even if AGW is proven (and all of the evidence points the other way), this will do exactly zero to combat it.

Posted by: Monique at April 23, 2011 4:31 PM

I can only speak right now for Hawaii when it comes to my personal experience with alternate energy and wind farms (when living in Woonsocket, RI I did retrofit my house for passive solar cutting my total annual energy costs by 38%).

President George W. Bush designated State of Hawaii as a clean energy partner to work with the Department of Energy in developing clean green energy alternatives to fossil fuels thereby lowering the state carbon footprint and to be a role model to the lower 48 states. Hawaii was and still is the most imported oil dependent state (90%) in the nation but the percentage is now dropping.

Dr. Steven Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, has called Hawaii: “A unique test bed for clean, renewable energy.”

Hawaii is currently the national leader per-capita in photovoltaic solar energy generation and solar hot water installations.

The amount of green alternate energy systems, designs, concepts, integrations, hybrid, proof of concepts, commercial testing going on in Hawaii plus driving a whole technology employment and business sector is mind boggling.

Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative signed into law and agreements in 2008 by Governor Linda Lingle (R), mandates a 70% (40% alternate energy and 30% energy efficiency) reduction of the imported oil needed for the state’s energy needs to be replaced by clean alternate energy resources by the year 2030.

Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company of Seattle, Washington blanket filed for offshore wind farms up and down the East and West Coasts plus Hawaii with the Federal Government for offshore wind farm permits (including RI) meaning they intend to piggyback on Deepwater Wind.

Long before Deepwater Wind became involved with RI, Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company without informing anyone in Hawaii suddenly announced they were building an offshore wind farm on Penguin Bank in the middle of Hawaii’s National Marine Whale Sanctuary. State of Hawaii went ballistic because of the endangerment to the whales! Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company then contacted Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) indicating they would sell electricity from the offshore wind farm at $0.20 per Kwh which was rejected because HECO costs was $0.10 per Kwh burning imported diesel fuel in its generators. Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company was sent packing back to the mainland as the permit was rescinded by federal grovernment .

You will not find offshore wind farms in the State of Hawaii because of exorbitant cost and overhead involved plus the destruction to natural ocean habitant.

State of Hawaii has wind farms on most all the islands land based which are cheaper than offshore wind farms and Hawaii is going to lay undersea power cables to transfer alternate energy power inter-island.

So far, as each green alternate energy projects and systems have been brought on line to the grid in Oahu with HECO my monthly electric bill has decreased now a total of $10 per month!

If the state laws, PUC, electric utility co., alternate energy technology and technology supplier (best fit for application) are working in concert you should not see a massive increase in utility costs like what is happening in RI.

Posted by: Ken at April 23, 2011 11:48 PM
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