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Tag Archives: Renewable Energy

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to one and all! I haven’t been around much, sorry about that. My sorta-kinda pseudo retirement hasn’t been going well of late. So badly in fact that I am busier now than I have been in many years. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’m enjoying it a lot. At any rate, I have officially postponed my retirement for another few years.

But enough about me. Instead, I have two questions. First, what do you think was the most significant political shift in the past year? Second, what do you think will be the most significant political shift in the coming year?

I think the most significant political shift last year was the shift in attitudes about gay marriage. The change has been amazing. And even though the Supreme Court avoided giving their final word on the issue, I think it’s safe to say that they did everything but. And in response it seemed resistance to gay marriage pretty much melted away. There may still be a few coughs and sputters along the way (e.g., one wonders what’s going to happen with respect to that recent ruling in Utah, of all places), but I think by the end of 2014 or so acceptance of gay marriage will be more the norm than the exception. Next up… bestiality!

Lol! I’m kidding. I just couldn’t help it. But I gotta say in defense of my good buddy, um… um… Okay, he’s not my good buddy, but I’m thinking about that guy on Duck’s Dynasty. You know, the one with the beard. 🙂 Anyway, I get the whole tolerance thing. I really do. Then again, maybe not. At what point does tolerance become ridiculous? And at what point does it butt up against intolerance? Said in a more personal way (except I’m not asking any one person, but everyone), what exactly are the boundaries for you, and why should we take your word for it?

The connection may seem obscure (probably because it is), but I keep thinking ’bout all those naked cowgirls floating across the ceiling. Oh Lord, naked cowgirls sure can make you think you’re in heaven. But I shouldn’t be thinking about such things. It’s sexist. More to the point, I keep thinking about how my own prejudices oscillate to and fro, depending on the particular situation, and about how they’ve changed over the years. And I gotta say, I’ve grown more tolerant of intolerance, because sometimes it has its place. Maybe it’s just me (I guess it’s all about me again), but it seems to me that if your cause is just all you have to do is apply the pressure, wait long enough, and the intolerance will respond to changes in reality, so long as those changes are just. But I digress…

As to what I think will be the most significant political shift in the coming year it just might be that the fossil fuel lobby will lose their stranglehold on the clean energy debate. In that I harken back to my post of Sept 11 wherein I pointed out that conservative Tea Party groups in Georgia and Wisconsin were teaming up with liberal environmental groups to advocate for more and better access by clean energy sources to the energy mix offered by “local” utility providers. I put “local” in quotes because utility providers are not usually “local” in any sort of proper sense of the word. And that, I would say, characterizes one of the new battlegrounds. More recently a conservative group in Michigan, calling themselves the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, has branched out to advocate for clean energy all on their own, without the help of a leftie/greenie organization holding their hand. Interestingly, they divorced any mention of climate change in the process, electing instead to emphasize the many other important issues clean energy impacts. Things like the economic impacts, national security impacts, public policy impacts, the imperatives faith implies, and of course the fact that they’re losing the political message to the lefties/greenies — Haha!. But hey, it doesn’t bother me if they’re ignoring the obvious as long as they’re headed in the right direction.

Ironically though, the one-year extension to federal production tax credit (PTC) program that was designed to promote the deployment of clean energy sources (particularly wind) officially ended today. It did so with surprisingly little fan-fare. There are reasons for that which I won’t go into here — suffice it to say that there’s still time to reverse that lapse without serious damage, as long as it’s done within the next few months. The longer it takes the worse the impact is. And after all, this is a program that was begun under the Bush (Jr) administration with bipartisan support, and really <i>should</i> be a darling of the right. It should be so because it has not only been hugely successful in spurring the development and spread of wind energy (resulting in a dramatic 25% reduction in capital costs over just the last 4 years as well as produced multiple thousands of domestic jobs, mostly in the manufacturing and construction sectors), but also because it is a uniquely results-oriented program which rewards the producers only on the basis of what they actually produce. It appears to me that the only reason the PTC program is the least bit controversial is because the fossil fuel industry is against it. Thus, it seems to me, this coming year will be a real litmus test revealing just how deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry the conservatives as a group really are. After all, they do so at the expense of just about every other sector of the economy. I don’t know how they can successfully spin that at this point. Maybe they can pull it off for another year or so (and thus my prediction may be a little premature), but I’m pretty sure that by the 2016 elections the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on opinion will be broken and both sides will be advocating renewable fuels to one extent or another. 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Tea Party “Hearts” the Sierra Club

ImageTime to dust off the vinyl, fire up the turntable, and put on the Youngbloods… “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together, try to love one another right now…”

It’s nice when groups who normally oppose each other find some common ground, don’t you think? (HT to Cluster and Mitch on that score) Well, in Georgia, of all places, the Atlanta Tea Party and the Sierra Club have decided to get in bed together and have a veritable love-fest. Says Tea Party spokesman Debbie Dooley:

“Some people may have done a double take on July 11 when they saw me and fellow members of the Atlanta Tea Party celebrating next to the Sierra Club as it was announced that Georgia’s largest energy provider will invest in a huge increase in solar power. Why was the Tea Party rallying with groups across the aisle like the Sierra Club?

It’s time for a new party. I’m calling it the Green Tea Coalition.”

Can I get a holy crap? C’mon, say it with me… HOLY CRAP! And what happened in Georgia is not just a weird, one-off thing, either. The Wisconsin Libertarian party is likewise teaming up with the local clean energy group, RENEW, to endorse a proposal to allow the state’s electricity customers to lease solar panels and other small renewable energy generators. The reason, of course, is that rooftop solar is very rapidly approaching grid parity with fossil fuel generation. In fact, it already has in a growing number of regions.

One could certainly argue that there’s a bit of irony in tea party groups endorsing solar power (just a bit), given how much government money has been invested in stimulating the market to reach this point (the German government in particular deserves a lot of credit in that regard). Considering that, you’d think they’d look a little friendlier at the concept of “dancing with who brung ya”. But hey, no sense in spoiling the party right now.  Grab your partner and have another cup of green tea.

One final point: manufacturing costs have gotten so low that these days the only barrier to making solar power widely available at grid parity prices (or lower) is the soft costs involved – the costs of financing, licensing, and installation. And as Dave Roberts explains, the utility companies are getting ready to fight tooth and nail against further encroachment. Why? Because distributed power generation will destroy their business model.  That last link is a must read, by the way. It will help you understand why your local utility, and likewise the fossil fuel companies who supply them, are likely to complain loudly, vociferously, and at length at any attempt to integrate distributed power of any ilk.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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