Monday, August 27, 2012

The childish mentality of Leftist journalist Jenny Uechi

See below, where she writes under the heading: "Nature takes revenge on climate change deniers". She sees one storm as evidence of global warming. She must live in an eternal present, as the incidence of hurricanes has been way down in recent years. Any awareness of the past is obviously beyond her. I have met smarter 11-year-olds

Tropical Storm Isaac forced the cancellation of the opening day of festivities for the U.S. Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Given the GOP leadership's denial of climate change, the timing of the storm (now expected to become a category 2 hurricane) was deeply ironic.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has long held a dismisssive stance on climate change. He argued in a 2009 op-ed that the debate was still out on global warming (especially since it was snowing in his home state of Wisconsin), and accused climatologists of using "statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public".

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has reversed his previous stance on global warming, saying he's really not sure if human activity is to blame, and that "the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for [Americans]."

Their stance on climate change is hardly an exception within the GOP: Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and others in the Republican presidential primaries all challenged the validity of global warming.

The recent storm in Florida might be Mother Nature's unsubtle way of telling the Republicans that climate change is no joke, and about to get a lot more serious.


The tangled tale of Lord Deben and a dodgy Severn barrage

A proposal for the biggest infrastructure project in British history has shaky foundations but some powerful friends

The corruptocrat himself above

An extraordinary picture of the state of our public life has come to light in recent days, in accounts of the involvement of some of our most senior politicians in the vast, lucrative and expanding industry of “renewable energy”.

At the centre of the picture is David Cameron, who last month nominated Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer) as the new chairman of the influential and supposedly “independent” Committee on Climate Change, set up to advise government on energy policy under the Climate Change Act. This is despite the fact that Lord Deben’s array of environmental business interests includes chairmanship of Forewind Ltd, a consortium of four energy firms planning the world’s largest, and most heavily subsidised, offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

Lord Deben’s suitability will be assessed on September 4, when he is interviewed by the Commons select committee on energy and climate change, chaired by Tim Yeo MP. Yeo was a junior environment minister under Lord Deben when the latter was environment secretary in the 1990s.

Mr Cameron has also lately taken a very active interest in a new £30 billion project for a tidal barrage across the Severn estuary, which he discussed at Downing Street last month with the former Labour Cabinet minister Peter Hain, acting on behalf of a consortium organised by a tiny Welsh company, Corlan Hafren – of which Deben was until very recently a director.

Attention has lately been drawn to the declared business interests of both Lord Deben and Mr Yeo – who last year earned more than £200,000, on top of his MP’s salary of £80,000, working for companies mostly involved in “green” energy schemes. The apparent exception was his role as “environmental adviser” to Eurotunnel, by whom he was paid up to £1,000 an hour. But Eurotunnel, it turns out, is planning to run a £220 million “interconnector” power cable through its service tunnel, to provide back-up from French nuclear power stations for the times when our wind turbines don’t supply enough power to the national grid.

Turbines – of the type that earn Mr Cameron’s father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, £1,000 a day on his Lincolnshire estate – are so unreliable that they could never hope to meet our EU obligation to source nearly a third of our electricity from “renewables” within seven years. That is 10 times more than wind power generates at present. Hence Mr Cameron’s sudden interest in a new Severn barrage scheme (though the idea was rejected by the Coalition in 2010 as being far too expensive) and his talks with the peculiar little company Corlan Hafren, which we are told could supply “5 per cent” of our electricity needs by 2022 with a new version of the barrage, funded by more than £30 billion from “Kuwait, Qatar and other sovereign wealth funds”.

Until last week, Companies House showed Lord Deben as a director of the company, which has registered assets of only £91. Listed among its shareholders, the largest of whom is a formerly bankrupt Welsh property entrepreneur, is another company, holding a sixth of the shares, with the imposing name of Sancroft International. Thanks to diligent researches by readers of the climate-sceptic blog Bishop Hill, it emerges that the six shareholders of Sancroft, an environmental consultancy which also acts as a vehicle for the earnings of Lord Deben, are Deben himself, his wife and their four children, one of whom, Ben Gummer, is a Tory MP.

All of which might focus further attention on the proposed Severn barrage itself, a vast concrete wall stretching 11 miles across the Bristol Channel from Somerset to south Wales, possibly incorporating a motorway and a railway, and also 1,000 turbines, which, we are told, would have the “capacity” to generate “6.5 gigawatts” of electricity. But what is often not understood about tidal barrages is that, like wind turbines, they only generate power intermittently, according to the tides. So the actual output of a Severn barrage, as confirmed in 2007 by Sir Jonathon Porritt’s Sustainable Development Commission, would only be 22 per cent of its “capacity”.

In other words, the barrage’s contribution to the grid would average out at only 1.43 gigawatts, which is roughly the same as the power produced, much more consistently, by one large gas-fired power station – costing only £1 billion to build. A single nuclear power station, such as that proposed for Hinkley Point further down the estuary, could produce the same amount for a fraction of the same capital investment and with only minimal fuel costs. The barrage would thus be a ludicrously expensive way to produce a relatively small amount of electricity.

So, firstly, why has the idea of wasting so much money suddenly so seized Mr Cameron that he has asked Oliver Letwin to liaise with Corlan Hafren in pushing the scheme, which we are told would be piloted through the Commons by Mr Hain? The answer seems to be that the Prime Minister is now uncomfortably aware that he hasn’t a hope of meeting that EU renewables target with wind turbines (and Brussels does not count nuclear power as “renewable”). Furthermore, what would be the biggest infrastructure project in our history might temporarily create, it is claimed, “30,000 jobs”. What the PM probably doesn’t understand, because his advisers might not have told him, is just how small a contribution the scheme would make to our EU target.

What makes this even odder, however, is that the Government could contemplate handing such a mammoth project to a company which is currently showing only £91 in its accounts, representing the contributions of its various shareholders. The answer to this puzzle must lie in the central involvement in the company of Lord Deben, who in 2007 was commissioned by Mr Cameron to produce a report for the Conservative Party entitled Blueprint for a Green Economy. Sancroft’s current managing director is Adrian Gahan, formerly Mr Cameron’s adviser on energy and climate change policy, who played a key part. behind the scenes. in pushing the Climate Change Act through Parliament.

There were signs last week that Lord Deben was anxious to distance himself from the controversy building up around his involvement with Corlan Hafren. He told The Guardian that he had not been a director since June, although this was only registered with Companies House last Monday. But we must return to the question we began with: is it really acceptable that in 10 days’ time the confirmation of his chairmanship of the most influential body guiding government policy on energy and climate change should be in the hands of a committee of MPs chaired by Tim Yeo? This means that these two men at the centre of shaping our energy future are both involved financially with an industry which stands to make billions from what is, potentially, one of the most dangerous wrong turns in our country’s history.

As I have observed before, the Severn barrage would not only be a grotesque waste of money, but would have a devastating affect on the ecology of the lower Severn estuary, damaging inter alia the tidal flats where huge numbers of wading birds feed. This has provoked opposition from an array of environmental lobby groups, including the RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who claim that it would be illegal under the EU’s Habitats Directive.

The new scheme, it is claimed by Corlan Hafren, would get round this by leaving more of the mudflats exposed, making it possible for us to claim to Brussels that we were providing the birds with “compensation” habitat for that which was lost.

The last time this trick was played, on a much smaller scale, was when a Cardiff Bay barrage was proposed in the 1990s. The government then got its way with Brussels by promising “compensation” feeding grounds further up the coast, by allowing the sea to flood a large area of the Gwent Levels, which had been reclaimed from it since Roman times. The environment minister who negotiated this device for getting round the EU law was none other than John Selwyn Gummer. But it would be much harder to convince the EU that a barrage right across the estuary – putting an end, among much else, to the Severn Bore – was not in serious breach of the Habitats Directive.

How ironic it would be, then, if a monster project conceived only to meet our obligations under one EU directive – since Article 5(2) of the Renewables Directive was originally drafted, on Britain’s insistence, specifically to permit a Severn barrage, though it is now more generally worded – was found to be illegal under another EU directive.

For this and other reasons, I very much doubt that Lord Deben’s pie-in-the-sky scheme will ever go ahead. But he can always console himself financially with his earnings from that monster wind farm in the North Sea. It should provide enough for a chairman of the Committee on Climate Change to retire on quite comfortably.


Romney Smacks Wind Energy Money Grab

For twenty years American taxpayers have been supporting the wind energy industry through the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and twenty before that in various forms of favoritism.

Each time it is scheduled to expire, the lobbyists from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) fight for its extension, claiming the infant industry is almost ready to stand on its own and just needs a little more help. The PTC appeals to an emotional and ideological viewpoint as the idea of “free” energy seems attractive—but it can’t stand up when viewed through the filter of facts and science.

Now that the true costs—both in dollars and daily impacts—of inefficient, ineffective, and uneconomical renewable electricity are becoming known, people are having second thoughts and public support has waned.

Like wind energy is from a different century (specifically the 18th century), the PTC comes from a different political era—a time when politicians were reelected based on the “pork” they could bring home to their constituents. Today, America is in an economic war and her citizens know it. Big spenders are being ostracized, replaced with political newbies who understand the timbre of the times.

Republicans, especially, want fiscal responsibility. They see the public failure of the Obama administration’s funding of solar energy projects as crony corruption. Republicans understand that the wind energy industry, as the AWEA and wind energy manufacturers happily tout, will totally collapse without government support and there is no appetite for more government spending especially when it results in higher electricity prices and lost manufacturing jobs.

The monies spent on renewable energy subsidies—such as the PTC—will never be recouped. These industries are a net drain on the Treasury.

Mitt Romney boldly announced his opposition to the extension of the PTC—while Obama continues to emphasize his belief in emotion and ideology over fact and science.

Democrats, and a few misguided Republicans, point to “energy independence” as the rationale for more expensive renewable energy such wind and solar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government programs throw taxpayer dollars at these industries to provide electricity, but America is already electricity independent.

We do not import electricity and we have enough coal, natural gas, and uranium within our shores to provide for our growing electricity needs for centuries to come. Any electricity shortages being felt in this hot, summer season are as a result of the dearth of new power plants being built—not due to fuel shortages.

While delegates are packing, members of the platform committee were communicating; presenting various ideas as to what should be included. The Republican Party should have joined with their nominee and made opposition to the PTC an official part of the party platform.

Instead, Tuesday night, it missed an opportunity to differentiate itself from the opposition and “decided to speak in generalities about an all-of-the-above energy policy”—even when “all-of-the-above” doesn’t make economic sense. What about “all that is sensible?”


Smart meter installations stir rowdy response from gun-toting, cage-building Texans

If you don't want your airconditioning turned off remotely just when you need it most, you too should be resisting this

Thelma Taormina keeps a pistol at her Houston-area home to protect against intruders. But one of the last times she used it, she said, was to run off a persistent utility company worker who was trying to replace her old electricity meter with a new digital unit.

“This is Texas.” she declared at a recent public hearing on the new meters. “We have rights to choose what appliances we want in our home.”

A nationwide effort to upgrade local power systems with modern equipment has run into growing resistance in Texas, where suspicion of government and fear of electronic snooping have made a humble household device the center of a politically charged showdown over personal liberty.

Some angry residents are building steel cages around their electric meters, threatening installers who show up with new ones and brandishing Texas flags at boisterous hearings about the utility conversion. At a recent hearing at the state Capitol in Austin, protesters insisted everyone present recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the meeting could begin.

“It’s Gestapo. You can’t do this,” said Shar Wall of Houston, who attended the Public Utility Commission meeting wearing a large red “Texas Conservative” pin. “I’m a redneck Texas girl and I won’t put up with it.”

Utilities began replacing old-style electricity meters across the country about seven years ago as part of an effort to better manage demand on an increasingly strained power grid. New “smart meters” transmit and receive data remotely as electricity is used. Utility officials say they can use the real-time information to help prevent grid overloads during extreme temperatures. The devices would also promote conservation, such as cycling air conditioners on and off during peak demand periods.

In 2009, President Barack Obama devoted $3.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to help utility companies make the upgrade.

The conversion has triggered opposition in a number of states. Some residents have questioned the health impact of the radio waves the devices emit or the possibility that hackers could get confidential data from the transmissions.

Officials have downplayed the hazards, but several states, including California, Vermont, Maine and Nevada, have allowed residents to opt out of the new system. In most cases, residents would have to pay extra to have a utility employee come to their house to read their old meter.

Texas utilities have installed nearly 6 million smart meters, or 87 percent of their goal, since the state passed authorizing legislation in 2005. But as the project moves toward completion by 2016, the opposition is getting louder. It also carries the distinct flavor of an ultraconservative state that relishes its history as an independent republic before joining the United States.

State utility commission hearings on the meters have featured as many references to the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War and the Constitution as to the technical demands on the power system.

At a recent session, a staff presentation included a slide saying the new meters “are not meant to spy on you.” Waiting to testify, activist David Akin replied, “Yes they are!”


"Clean Energy" Is Obama-Speak for Crony Government

Breaking news: The Fishwrap of Record has finally discovered that the Obama administration gives its Chicago corporate pals special access to power and regulatory favoritism. On Thursday, The Not-So-New York Times published an A1 story titled "Ties to Obama Aided in Access for Big Utility."

Everyone, put on your shocked faces!

"With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House," the Times intoned, "a review of Exelon's relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon."

You mean Hope and Change was all smoke and mirrors? Well, knock me over with a feather and call me Grandpa Daley!

White House press flack Jay Carney played dumb when asked about the report, which detailed "an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon's competitors."

"I'm not sure what the issue is, frankly," Carney told the Beltway press corps. Carney, a former Time magazine journalist who pointedly reminded his former media colleagues that he "was a reporter," apparently forgot all the connect-the-dots training he got at his once-hallowed publication.

The issue, dear Carney, is favor-trading and access-peddling. Government for the cronies, by the cronies and of the cronies. The Times spelled it out: "I would like to get some treatment in Washington like that," Ken Anderson, general manager at Tri-State G and T, a Colorado-based power supplier that has been at odds with Exelon over environmental regulations, told the paper. "But Exelon seems to get deference that I can't get."

As I noted back in January in my column on Obama's green robber barons, my scouring of White House visitor logs showed nine visits from Illinois-based Exelon's CEO John Rowe, who met with the president and former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel multiple times. The clean energy company's deep ties had already been illuminated by several other business publications, including Forbes and Crain's.

Frank M. Clark, the veteran lobbyist who runs Exelon's Commonwealth Edison, the largest electric utility in Illinois, is a top Obama adviser and fundraiser dating back to the former community organizer's Illinois State Senate days. Longtime Obama campaign guru David Axelrod worked as a consultant to Exelon. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped create Exelon -- where he raked in more than $16 million over two years.

Carney's boss once made it a central hobbyhorse of his presidential campaign. When he announced his presidential intentions in 2007, candidate Obama decried "the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play." He indignantly singled out "the best bundlers" who get the "greatest access" to power. ComEd's Clark bundled at least $200,000 for Obama in 2008 and at least $100,000 for the 2012 cycle, and forked over nearly $30,000 more to committees supporting Obama. Earlier this year, Obama acknowledged raising at least $74 million through his team of big-time bundlers who have been showered with access, tax dollars and plum patronage positions.

It's taken four years for the media lapdoggies to call out the Naked Emperor of Chicago-on-the-Potomac. Better late than never, ya think? I hear the crackerjack reporters at ye Olde York Times may be planning a special in-depth investigative series on the president's dirty D.C. business-as-usual administration slated to run sometime after Election Day. They could call it "Culture of Corruption: Obama's Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies." Oh, wait...


Gas-fired backup power plants are going to need subsidies now too

Subsidies needed as far as the eye can see

The variability of renewable energy is raising additional issues for European governments as they grapple with carbon emissions targets and the growth of wind and solar power.

Regulators in several countries are preparing to contract gas-fired electricity generation capacity to provide back-up for renewable energy on still and cloudy days, when wind and solar power are in short supply.

That adds to efforts in countries including Britain and Germany to increase transmission capacity, also to smooth intermittency by allowing wind farms to access as wide an area as possible.

Ideally, companies that generate wind and solar power should help pay for these balancing services, such as by installing battery storage, but they are already struggling to compete without subsidies, and so the extra cost will fall on consumers.

In Europe, the new capacity payment schemes for gas-fired back-up will draw attention to these costs, previously unreported, for maintaining fossil fuel power plant capacity that will be idle much of the time.

A so-called capacity payments system is planned in Britain and France, under consideration in Germany and already in use in Spain and Ireland, as EU members strive to meet binding targets collectively to get a fifth of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, compared with about 11 percent now.

Back-up is necessary because of the intermittency of renewable energy.

In addition, most European countries operate under a "merit order" system in which they dispatch power to the grid based on lowest marginal cost to keep wholesale power prices to a minimum. Because wind and solar have zero marginal cost - their fuel is free - they always get priority access.

That helps keep power prices down at times of peak demand (lunchtime and early evening), which is great news for consumers but is increasingly undercutting the profitability of gas-fired power.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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