How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Cost Of Electricity? -- Part V

How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Cost Of Electricity? -- Part V

Over the past few years, I seem to have developed something of a specialty in tracking the costs of trying to run an electrical grid using more and more power sourced from the intermittent renewables, wind and solar. I started looking into this subject because it appeared to me to be obviously a huge issue that must be addressed if one is going to attempt to replace fossil fuels with these renewables; but hardly anyone else seemed to be paying attention to this. On the side of the climate crusaders, you just get one unbelievably naive piece after another. For example, here is one of my favorites from the New York Times of February 6, 2018, “Why a Big Utility Is Embracing Wind and Solar,” by Justin Gillis and Hal Harvey, taking the position that a utility “will be able to build and operate the new [wind and solar] plants for less money than it would have to pay just to keep running its old, coal-burning power plants.” So, just knock down the old coal plants and put up some new, cheaper wind turbines and solar panels! Your electricity will come from clean and green sources, and the planet will be saved. What could be easier?

The missing piece is that the wind and sun provide power only intermittently, and cannot on their own keep a grid for millions of people up and running and functioning continuously. They need either some kind of 100% backup which is idle much of the time but ready to go at all times, or alternatively storage for what could be many days — or even a month or more — of power. Does that add a little or a lot to the costs? How would you know? Believe me, Gillis and Harvey — and many others of their ilk — do not and will not address this issue.

For some background on this subject, here are a few of my previous pieces:

I return to this subject today because a Minnesota-based think tank called the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) is just out with a big Report . . . .

Read More

Fox Butterfield Returns To The New York Times With The February Jobs Report

We humans are always trying to understand our world by asking why, why, and why? And sometimes people look at the same set of facts and come up with exactly opposite answers as to what is going on.

For example, probably the fundamental difference between my own world view and that of progressives is found in our respective views of what drives economic growth and wealth creation. Are economic growth and wealth creation driven principally by the the striving of millions of individuals working in their own self-interest under conditions of private property and free exchange? Of are economic growth and wealth creation driven principally by government spending and programs that “create” the jobs and the wealth? Supporters of the Green New Deal, for example, clearly subscribe to the latter view.

The progressive confusion of cause and effect reached a true high water mark with a famous series of New York Times articles about crime and incarceration rates, written by then reporter Fox Butterfield between about 1997 and 2004. The November 8, 2004 iteration had the headline “Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates.” Butterfield noted that, “[t]he number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday,” a phenomenon Butterfield labeled “the paradox of a falling crime rate but a rising prison population.” James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal proceeded to get a lot of mileage by identifying and calling out one example after another of what he called the “Butterfield fallacy.” Here is a January 2013 WSJ piece by Taranto containing a history of the subject. As to the seeming “paradox” of the crime and incarceration rates, Taranto writes: “The Butterfield Fallacy consists in misidentifying as a paradox what is in fact a simple cause-and-effect relationship: [As Butterfield himself recognized at one point,] ‘Of course, the huge increase in the number of inmates has helped lower the crime rate by incapacitating more criminals behind bars.’” . . .

Read More

Why Do Renewable Energy Sources Need Government Subsidies?

If you read the progressive press, or even a little of it, with an interest in matters of energy policy, then surely you know by now that it has become cheaper to produce electricity using the wind and sun than using fossil fuels. You know that because you have read it over and over again, in authoritative articles written by, and quoting, people who seem to know what they are talking about, and with no one ever raising any skeptical questions.

Here are some of the articles that may be among what you have read on this subject:

  • There was the Financial Times on November 8, 2018, in a piece titled “New wind and solar generation costs fall below existing coal plants.” The Financial Times — now there are people who really know what they are talking about. The article mainly relies on a study then just out from investment bank Lazard, reporting on what is called the “Levelized Cost of Energy” for various sources of generation: “The cost of new wind and solar power generation has fallen below the cost of running existing coal-fired plants in many parts of the US . . . New estimates published on Thursday by Lazard, the investment bank, show that it can often be profitable for US generation companies to shut working coal plants and replace their output with wind and solar power.” . . .

Read More

Manhattan Contrarian Quiz: Achieving Perfect Fairness In A Property Tax System

Every so often here at Manhattan Contrarian, we have a Quiz. For example, you may remember the big Climate Tipping Points Quiz back in October 2018, or the Racist And Sexist Remarks And Slurs Quiz from August 2018, or even the What Is Science Quiz from April 2017. That last one had only one question. Today’s Quiz is again a one-question test. The question is, How do you achieve perfect fairness in a property tax system? We will consider specifically the property tax system in New York City — which is widely criticized for being both convoluted and also greatly “unfair” — and examine two very different recent demands to fix the “unfairness.” Your task will be to determine which of the two demands will produce success in fixing the unfairness. Three other possible answers to the Quiz are “both,” “neither” and “it is not possible to have a perfectly fair property tax system.”

Before getting to the two demands, perhaps I should mention that the convolutedness of NYC’s current property tax system is very much the result of dozens if not hundreds of tweaks along the way, each seemingly intended to increase the “fairness” of the system as perceived by some particular bureaucrat or group of bureaucrats at some point in time. And yet the complaints only increase. Always, the complainer can point to some respect in which his or her treatment by the system is obviously and grossly “unfair.” This must be fixed immediately!

Our first demand originates with a group called Tax Equity Now NY LLC. . . .

Read More

China Update: The "Reasonably Enlightened Autocrats" At Work

It’s almost a decade ago now, but who can forget perhaps the greatest New York Times op-ed of all time, penned by columnist Thomas Friedman in September 2009, with the headline “Our One-Party Democracy.”? In case you are struggling to remember back that far, recall that in the 2008 elections the Democrats had swept to control of all levers of power in Washington — the Presidency and both houses of Congress. And yet still, they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on issues that Friedman saw as critical, particularly healthcare and “climate change.” All they could do was fight among themselves in the Congress. Oh, wouldn’t it just be so much better if instead of this messy democracy thing, we could have some “reasonably enlightened autocrats” like they have in, say, China, who could address our pressing problems by just promptly imposing the solutions that are so painfully obvious to our genius progressive elites?

[W]hen [one-party autocracy] is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can . . . have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar.

Yes, China and its “reasonably enlightened autocrats” were truly poised back then to seize “climate leadership” from the United States, and relegate us once again to the scrap heap of history. Indeed the phrase “climate leadership” — referring to the enlightened policies of China — became a recurring motif for the Times in the intervening years.

Perhaps it is time to check in for a little update. . . .

Read More

The Total Futility Of Trying To Save The Planet By Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Total Futility Of Trying To Save The Planet By Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In trendy progressive states here in the U.S., we know how we are going to solve “climate change.” We are going to slash our “greenhouse gas” emissions. Here in New York City, we’re going to reduce our GHG emissions by 80% by 2050. If you don’t believe it, you can just ask Mayor de Blasio. New York State? Same goal, 80% by 2050. California also has a goal of reducing GHG emissions 80% by 2050. Surely, this will solve the problem.

New York and California seem to think that they are big stuff in the world. After all, who is more important than we wealthy coastal U.S. elites? But unfortunately, on a global scale, we don’t really have enough population to count for much. As usual, when it’s time to do the arithmetic, the progressives fall on their faces. Let’s look at some numbers.

New York State has a population of about 20 million. California has about twice that population, 40 million. For comparison, the country of India has a population of about 1.4 billion — about 23 times the combined total of New York and California.

For greenhouse gas emissions, the latest number I find for New York . . .

Read More