Affordable, reliable energy is essential to our well-being
A March 18th blog post from UKIP member of the European Parliament, Roger Helmer, takes a bite out of the wind industry’s claims that they have played a key role in lowering energy prices and increasing competition.
Unfortunately, renewables do not compete on a level playing field. As we have noted many times before renewables have been able to “compete” only because of the massive levels of subsidies they receive. Helmer also notes that their role in the European energy system has actually helped to increase costs to the point that manufacturing interests are fleeing Europe for areas with lower cost energy.
Mr. Kraemer might like to reflect on the FT report “High energy prices drive BMW factory to the USA” Or on the letter to José Manuel Barroso from the Chief Executive of international chemicals group Solvay and thirteen other leaders of major energy intensive industries, pointing out that high energy prices risk forcing them out of the EU altogether, taking their jobs and their investment with them.
Helmer also discusses the abject failure of government support of so-called green jobs to have any positive impact on employment. He points out studies showing they have actually cost far more jobs than they created. He then continues by describing how funding and construction of renewable projects has had effectively no impact on emissions of greenhouse gases.
Lastly, Helmer closes by highlighting the irony in Germany’s recent (and strong) movement back toward coal and increased reliance on U.S.-based coal to power those coal plants.
After years of almost unbelievable investment in green energy, Germany is now rushing to build or refurbish a couple of dozen coal-fired power stations! It is importing cheap American coal to power them.
Of course this is no surprise to us at the Coallbog. We have shown numerous times how the big plans and lofty talk about cutting coal from the energy mix quickly fall apart when renewables and conservation can’t keep up with demand.
Perhaps the best example of that is the recent New York Times article that described how (once again) coal was NEEDED to pick up the slack during the extreme cold snap brought on by the polar vortex. Unfortunately, that article also had to admit that EPA regulations could soon make it impossible for “Coal to (come) to the Rescue” in the future.
As the end of the harshest winter in recent memory approaches, the bill is coming due for millions of consumers who are not only using more electricity and natural gas but also paying more for whatever they use. And there might not be relief in future winters, as the coal-fired power plants that utilities have relied on to meet the surge in demand are shuttered for environmental reasons.
In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said her office had been flooded with complaints from consumers whose utility bills had soared, in some cases tripling. In Rhode Island, the utility National Grid received permission for a 12.1 percent electricity rate increase in January, nearly all of it because of higher prices for the gas used to make electricity.
In New York, Con Edison increased the price of each kilowatt-hour about 16 percent this month compared to last year. And in Ohio, energy retailers will demand higher prices from customers like Ms. Cundiff when annual contracts are renewed.
Underlying the growing concern among consumers and regulators is a second phenomenon that could lead to even bigger price increases: Scores of old coal-fired power plants in the Midwest will close in the next year or so because of federal pollution rules intended to cut emissions of mercury, chlorine and other toxic pollutants.
The price increases have already started under the influence of mandated use of renewable energy (and the sizable subsidies which they receive), the push toward natural gas, and increasingly strict environmental regulation. As environmental regulations continue to squeeze customers and push many coal generation plants into early retirement, those price increases will only ramp up.
One hopes that energy users around the country (read: voters) will be able to clearly see the direct costs of the anti-coal campaign that is closing much-needed generation capacity today. One also hopes those voters will begin to discuss rising costs and system instability with their elected officials in the very near future. We must begin to realize that the free flow of affordable, reliable electricity is not a game. It is the lifeblood of this country’s economy and ensures the well-being of every American. We ignore that reality at our peril.