The Wall Street Journal Embarrasses Itself On The Economics Of 100% Intermittent Renewable Energy

The Wall Street Journal Embarrasses Itself On The Economics Of 100% Intermittent Renewable Energy

Here on this site there is a section called “Articles,” where I have posted several pieces that are longer than my typical blog post of about 1000 words. Except that I haven’t actually posted any new Articles there in several years. The reason is that I couldn’t figure out how to do it. But a couple of weeks ago I got a young consultant to give me a step by step procedure. And voilá! I have now posted a new Article. Go to the Articles section to check it out.

The subject of the new Article is the economics for a country of trying to get 100% of its electricity from the intermittent renewables, wind and solar. You will get a feel for my take on the situation from the title: “The Disastrous Economics Of Trying To Power An Electrical Grid With 100% Intermittent Renewables.” This Article is a slightly-modified version of a section of a Comment that some colleagues and I filed with the EPA with respect to some of its recent regulatory initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal chose this Saturday to attempt to tackle the same subject, covering the front page of its second section (“Exchange”) with a huge feature article headlined “Plugging In the Wind,” by a guy named Russell Gold. So does Mr. Gold of the Journal agree with me that the economics of trying to power an electrical grid with 100% intermittent renewables would be “disastrous”? Actually, the opposite. According to Gold:

For years, the wind and the sun were widely dismissed as niche sources of power that could never fill America’s vast need for energy. But now the cost of solar and wind power ha[s] fallen so much that the U.S. could substantially reduce harmful emissions while also lowering the price of electricity. . . . Renewable energy sources now provide the cheapest power in windy and sunny parts of the country.

Is there anything to that? Or is it complete pie-in-the-sky? . . .

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Talk About Excitement: New York To Become The "Global Leader" On Climate!

My posts of May 27 and of June 17 have taken note of the tremendous excitement being felt in New York now that our newly-fully-progressive-controlled state legislature has finally tightened up the rent regulation system to make sure that a select group of Manhattan millionaires can keep their way-below-market regulated rents for life. Take that, evil Republicans! But believe it or not, the excitement emanating from the great rent regulation “victory” is nothing compared to the fervor now being generated by the latest bill, just passed yesterday by the state legislature. You can get a sense of the ecstasy from the all-caps New York Times headline appearing over its lead story in this morning’s edition: “BIG CLIMATE PLAN SETS UP NEW YORK AS GLOBAL LEADER.” (The headline in the online version of the story is different, although the story is the same.)

Yes, finally (now that those evil Republicans are gone from their former majority in the state Senate) New York is getting serious on “climate.” And not just a little serious. It is going to become the climate’s “global leader.” What exactly does that entail?

The [Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act] requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower by 2030 and shift entirely to carbon-free power a decade later.

And then?

[T]he . . . Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If the state manages to hit those targets, it would effectively create a so-called net-zero economy, the ultimate goal of environmentalists and others seeking to slow the pace of global warming.

Before getting into the subject of whether there is any reality to this at all, we ought perhaps to have a review of the last time the New York Times declared a world “climate leader.” That would be back in March 2017, when Pravda in a big front-page spread awarded the mantle of “climate leader” to none other than the country of China. . . .

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New York Tightens Up Its Rent Regulation

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that there was “excitement in the air” here in New York. The cause of the excitement was the prospect of significantly tightened and expanded rent regulation, made possible by the ousting in the 2018 election of what long had been a narrow Republican majority in the state Senate. Now the state Senate would have a comfortable Democratic majority, joining the already-existing large Democratic majority in the state Assembly.

Being a Democratic legislator in New York means believing that preventing increases in rents makes housing “affordable,” and also has no meaningful downside consequences such as disinvestment in the regulated housing. Therefore, tight rent regulation is a key step in the march toward perfect justice and fairness in the world. Obviously then, tightening and expanding rent regulation would immediately rise to the top of the agenda in the newly constituted legislature. My previous post reported on bills on the rent regulation topic that were getting floated in May. Now, it looks like both houses of the legislature have passed a lengthy “reform,” with the title of “Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019,” which the Governor promptly signed. Here is a link to the as-passed bill on the legislature’s website, with an indication that it is what the Governor has signed.

How bad is it? Believe it or not, it could have been even worse. But, it is plenty bad. . . .

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Manhattan Contrarian Public Service: The Easy Solution To "Surprise" Medical Bills

In the long list of unintended consequences of Obamacare, the latest one to attract attention is the so-called “surprise medical bill.” They have given you to think that your all-beneficent government has bestowed upon you that holy grail of healthcare “coverage.” Then you have to go to the hospital. No problem — you have “coverage.” But upon getting home you suddenly get hit with a completely unexpected bill for $2000 or $5000, or even $10,000 or more, and you are told that it is not covered by the “coverage.” What the hell is going on here?

I guess you didn’t read the fine print. The geniuses behind the design of Obamacare insisted that they could mandate both “affordable” premiums, and simultaneously third-party payment for every conceivable health issue (e.g., free birth control for eighty-year-olds). But something had to give. The remaining escape valves have turned out to be high deductibles and narrow networks in the healthcare policies. Thus, for your hospital visit, you may find that your deductible makes you responsible for the first $3000, or even $5000, of the bills. Or, even worse, you may find that even though you carefully selected a hospital that was “in network,” the doctor who treated you was “out of network,” and sends you a bill for $6000 that your “coverage” won’t pay.

This “surprise medical bill” issue has recently attracted enough attention that the Congress has swung into action. When Congress swings into action, it follows the fundamental principal that all human problems are to be solved by some kind of program, regulation, or mandate emanating from the federal government. This principal applies most particularly to solutions to those human problems that were caused by the last round of programs, regulations and mandates emanating from the federal government. And thus we have something called the Lower Health Care Costs Act, recently introduced in the Senate by Lamar Alexander (Republican of Tennessee) and Patty Murray (Democrat of Washington). Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, in a piece titled “Get Rid of Surprise Medical Bills” (probably behind pay wall), Benedic Ippolito of the American Enterprise Institute calls the proposed LHCCA the “most consequential bipartisan health-care reform of the ObamaCare era.” . . .

As a public service to our readers and to the Congress, the Manhattan Contrarian wishes to state that there is a far, far better and easier solution to this “surprise medical bills” thing than any of the three proposals in the LHCCA. And it is a solution that is already present in existing law. The solution is, . . .

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On The Promise Of "Green Jobs"

Sometimes it seems like the biggest selling point advanced in favor of “renewable energy” is the promise of what are called “green jobs.” What are those? Proponents are often vague, but I suppose that the green jobs largely consist of the work of building, installing, and maintaining the vast future farms of windmills and solar panels, and related infrastructure like transmission lines. Since most of these jobs involve some combination of strenuous labor in remote areas and/or a high level of skill, of course they will be very high-paying jobs. Millions of them. What’s not to like about that?

President Obama was an early arrival at the “green jobs” party, tossing out a “plan to create 5 million new green jobs” as part of his 2008 presidential campaign. (Politifact in November 2016 struggles to figure out how many of those jobs ever got created, and if so, where they may be.) You won’t be surprised to learn that Obama’s ideas pretty much all consisted of some variety of government subsidies, programs, mandates, tax credits, “investments,” expenditures, and the like, e.g., a new “job training program for clean technologies,” a new federal “renewable portfolio standard” to force utilities to switch to wind and/or solar generation, extension of the “production tax credit” for wind and solar, and so on and on.

More recently “green jobs” promoters have further upped the ante. In January of this year, Francie Diep of Pacific Standard quoted the Center for American Progress as predicting that a federal “investment” of just $800 billion per year (!) toward cutting carbon emissions to zero would create 6.8 million net new jobs. Meanwhile, the International Labor Organization (part of the UN) put out a study in 2018 predicting that implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement would create some 24 million “net” green new jobs worldwide by 2030. It all sounds like a near-infinite bounty of new wealth.

Do you spot the fallacy here? . . .

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The Best Part Of Not Being A Progressive Is Not Having To Feel Guilty All The Time

I often tell my kids that the most important thing you can do with your life is enjoy it. Life is way shorter than you think, and if you blow your precious days coming up with fake reasons to feel anxious or guilty, you have no one to blame but yourself. Instead, count your blessings and seize every minute.

Then there is the progressive approach to life. I think that the whole progressive philosophy boils down to coming up with fake reasons to feel anxious and/or guilty in order to prevent any and all enjoyment of life. You worked hard and made some money? Then you have caused income inequality! You had a delicious steak for dinner? Then you have caused the degradation of the environment and you are ruining your own health! I’m sure that readers can come up with dozens more such examples.

How to explain this phenomenon? Could it be that there is some dark, twisted pleasure in creating fake guilt for yourself so that you can wallow in it and feel miserable? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but that’s the best hypothesis I’ve got. However, this I do know: There is definitely much pleasure to be had in watching progressives wallowing in their guilt and sapping all the joy out of their lives. This can be quite entertaining.

A great example of the genre is an article that appeared in the Travel section of the New York Times over the weekend. The headline (in the online version) is “If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home?”, and the author is Andy Newman. This was not just any old article, but the lead article, occupying the entire front page and the entire back page of the section. It had the official New York Times imprimatur as the most important thing happening in the world of travel right now. So what is the official word? . . .

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