Friday, September 13, 2013
British hospital managers worry hospitals will fail under pressure this winter
Hey! What's this? Warmists always tell us that warming will bring more illness. So how come it is winter when illness ramps up? Reality shoots down theory, I think
More than half of senior NHS managers believe hospitals will be unable to cope with pressures this winter, with many “at breaking point” amid a deepening crisis.
The report by the NHS Confederation forecasts a likely increase in cancelled operations, longer waiting times for patients, and serious safety issues, including increased death rates, as the service buckles under the strain.
It says that senior figures expect hospitals to struggle at least as much as they did last winter, when waiting times were the worst for nine years.
Figures show that between January and March 2013 more than 300,000 patients waiting more than four hours for treatment.
Senior managers polled for the report were pessimistic about the ability of the NHS to cope this winter, despite a £500m rescue fund which is being given to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments which struggled the most last year.
The survey of 125 chief executives, nursing and medical directors found that 54 per cent did not expect the NHS to meet the target to treat A&E patients within four hours this winter.
The report says it would take little for departments to collapse under the weight of winter pressures this year.
“A prolonged period of cold, a rapid increase in the acuity of patients presenting in A&E or a lengthy norovirus would be all it would take to bring many departments to breaking point,” it concludes.
Energy Department Blows More Money
Barack Obama's Department of Energy will again lose tens of millions on a loan extended to a speculative vehicle company with ties to a top fundraiser for the president. The blandly named Vehicle Production Group, “loaned” $50 million in 2011 by the Energy Department thanks to the Democrats' ridiculous stimulus act, revealed in May that it ceased operations last February and laid-off 100 people after the DOE froze its assets. As is the Obama administration's usual practice with squandered taxpayer “investments” (we use the term pejoratively) the administration tried to bury it with a Friday afternoon news dump that $42 million won't be paid back. Obviously there were few remaining assets to freeze.
Recall that the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing also financed politically connected green vehicle loser Fisker Automotive, which likewise ceased production and may declare bankruptcy.
Not content with poorly picking winners and losers, DOE recently announced it will restart the program (just in time for the 2014 election cycle) because there is $15 billion remaining in the funding authority even though the DOE hasn't dished out any more gifts since 2011. The scheme was best summed up by Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “From Solyndra to Fisker, taxpayers have already paid too much for President Obama's risky green energy bets,” he said in a statement. “Now is not the time to revive defunct Department of Energy loan programs that have already wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.” We couldn't agree more.
Climate Change This Week: AGW = More AND Less Hurricanes
Climate blogger Steven Goddard observed, "Over the last five hurricane seasons, the US has had a total of three hurricane strikes -- Irene, Issac and Sandy. This few hurricanes has happened only twice before -- in 1984 and 1866."
The conclusion here is obvious: We were told that anthropogenic global warming -- now conveniently referred to as "climate change" -- would result in a significant increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes. But what the Goracle and his minions really meant was that global warming would result in an increase and decrease in the number of hurricanes.
Meanwhile, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that over the next 50 years, the planet will actually cool, not warm. The IPCC, of course, is the organization whose 2007 report on the devastating effects of man-made global warming earned it and Al Gore a Nobel Peace Price. Six years later, it's "never mind."
Eagle slaughter: Wind farms kill 67 eagles in 5 years
Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists.
The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation’s growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Barack Obama’s plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.
But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.
The president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was “an alarming and concerning finding.”
A trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement that the figure was much lower than other causes of eagle deaths. The group said it was working with the government and conservation groups to find ways to reduce eagle casualties.
Still, the scientists said their figure is likely to be “substantially” underestimated, since companies report eagledeaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The study also excluded the deadliest place in the country for eagles, a cluster of wind farms in a northern California area known as Altamont Pass. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 per year.
The research affirms an AP investigation in May, which revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities and described how the Obama administration was failing to fine or prosecute wind energy companies, even though each death is a violation of federal law.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has said it is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and seven have been referred to the Justice Department.
Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.
Wind farms in two states, California and Wyoming, were responsible for 58 deaths, followed by facilities in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Texas, Maryland and Iowa.
In all, 32 facilities were implicated. One in Wyoming was responsible for a dozen golden eagle deaths, the most at a single facility.
The research was published in the Journal of Raptor Research.
Your money: Alabama Alpaca Farm Gets $40,648 Fed Grant, $142,500 Fed Loan to Go Solar
But alpaca farmers provide superfine wool to clothe rich ladies -- so it's worth it!
To fund a solar power system for his alpaca farm, an Alabama farmer combined a $40,648 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant, federal tax credits, and a $142,500 federally funded loan with a 1-percent interest rate.
Cozy Cove Alpaca and Llama Farm in Gurley, Alabama is now generating its own power and is selling the excess electricity at above-market prices to a corporation owned by the U.S. government.
Alpaca farm owner Tony O’Neil received a USDA “Rural Energy for America Program” grant of $40,648 as part of his effort to install a solar power system to generate electricity for his farm. Cozy Cove is now generating its own power and selling the excess power to the Tennessee Valley Authority, (TVA) which is owned by the federal government.
“The TVA had a program going,” O’Neil tells CNSNews.com. “There’s an incentive if you put solar panels on your farm or on your house, they would buy all the power from you for 12 cents (per kilowatt hour) above the normal rate that you pay.”
“In our case, that equates to about 22 cents a kilowatt hour, as we would pay about roughly 10 cents a kilowatt hour for power. So, they would agree to purchase the power for 10 years at 22 cents,” O’Neil says, “Then it was explained to me that you get a 30 percent federal income tax rebate as part of the incentive to go solar.”
O’Neil also received a 1-percent interest rate loan of $142,500 using funds from the AlabamaSAVES program for his solar project.
The AlabamaSAVES website says, “The program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provides extraordinary financing solutions for commercial and industrial energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects in Alabama and is administered by Abundant Power Solutions, LLC.”
O’Neil expects to earn about $15,000 per year by selling his electricity to the TVA.
“It’s roughly going to be $15,000. So far, since it’s been in operation about six months now, it’s generated about $8,000. Of course, it’s been the longest days of the year. As it's towards the winter time, it’s going to get less and less, hopefully it will all turn out to be close to $15,000 per year.”
Rooftop solar: Welfare for the wealthy?
Syria isn’t the only battle into which President Obama is injecting himself where he doesn’t belong. True, on a global scale, Arizona’s fight over net metering seems insignificant. However, on a personal scale, what is taking place in Arizona’s sunny desert has the potential to directly impact far more Americans than the shots being fired in Syria’s desert.
Syria’s conflict is often called a proxy war in that it is an indirect confrontation between superpowers via substitute actors. According to the definition of a proxy war found on the Intro to global security blog, “Modern non-state actors do not necessarily want to take over territory or a government; most use the expanding global communication network to levy resources (human or otherwise) and generate wealth and political/ideological power.” By that definition, Arizona’s net metering debate is Obama’s proxy war in the desert.
To understand Obama’s proxy war in the desert, you have to understand the intentionally confusing term: net metering.
Simply, net metering is the process through which homeowners with rooftop solar panels are paid by the local utility company for the excess power they produce. In its report on net metering, the Institute for Energy Research defines it this way: Net metering “allows people who generate electricity on their homes and businesses to sell electricity back to the grid when their generation exceeds their usage.” Sales pitches for rooftop solar often explain net metering as the electric meter running backwards.
Net metering has been around since the early 1980s when solar panels were expensive and few people had them. But the dynamics changed drastically when states began passing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that required predetermined percentages of electricity be generated from renewable sources—some even specified which sources are part the mix and how much of the resource was required. For example, in my home state of New Mexico, the Diversification Rule requires that 1.5% of the RPS must be met by “distributed generation” (read: rooftop solar). Arizona requires 30% of the RPS be derived from “distributed energy technologies” (once again, rooftop solar).
To meet the mandates, utility companies agreed to pay what essentially amounts to full retail rates for the excess electricity being generated by the solar panels. Often the combination of the electricity the homeowner buys from the utility (at night) and what they sell back (during the day) gives them a utility bill of nearly zero. Yet they are still using power from the electric company; they are still plugged into the grid. Grid maintenance, transmission lines and transformers, customer service, and other costs that are part of providing consistent, steady electricity to homes and businesses have historically been borne by everyone using it. Most people don’t think about it; it is just part of the bill.
Anyone who has ever owned a business, however, knows that you won’t survive for long when you are buying your product at retail and selling it for retail, as there are many additional costs between wholesale and retail. Yet, this is what utility companies are being forced to do through the net metering agreements that were made back when solar was in its infancy and customers needed to be incentivized to install solar panels so that the utility could purchase the power to meet the mandates. When there were only a few solar installations, the loss to the utility had a very small impact. But now, with the numbers increasing, the loss is larger. That loss is being carried by the entire rate base and taking money from family budgets.
The Institute for Energy Research explains:
“The option to utilize solar is principally available for those people who own their own homes, rental properties, or businesses. This means that most solar energy installations and all of the government benefits flow to Americans of some means. Despite the steep drop in solar panel prices over the last few years, PV is still a pricey option that is unattainable for most. Therefore, more affluent Americans tend to be the beneficiaries of federal, state, and local subsidies, mandates, and utility reimbursement for excess power generation that solar systems may provide. The unintended outcome of the wealthier utility customers enjoying the benefits of net metering subsidies at the expense of their lower income neighbors has been labeled the ‘reverse Robin Hood effect.’”
Even the New York Times acknowledges that the economics of rooftop solar “depend on government incentives and mandates.” All Arizonans are paying for the few who can afford the up-front costs of solar panel installation—not just through the taxpayer-funded state and federal subsidies, but through their increasing utility rates that are unfairly punishing those who can least afford them.
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is currently considering revising the generous credits offered to customers with rooftop solar. The ACC has two plans before it aimed at making up for the lost revenues without the majority of the rate base having to subsidize their wealthier neighbors. One has residential solar customers selling electricity to the grid paying a monthly “convenience fee” for the use and maintenance of the grid and the related expenses. The second would reduce the credit which customers with new solar installations would receive, making it comparable to market rates the utility pays other power generators. Those who currently (installed up through mid-October) have rooftop systems would be “grandfathered” in.
“In a lot of ways, Arizona represents ground zero in the debate about how to create a sustainable system for compensating solar rooftop customers,” explains Lance Brown, Executive Director of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE). “We’re talking about a state that is rich in solar resources and that has a mature community of customers who have invested in residential solar. The problem is that the model for paying solar customers for their power generation is utterly unsustainable.
“States that are contemplating how to treat residential solar customers face the fundamental question of how to fairly compensate customers for generation without unfairly shifting the burden of fixed costs to non-solar customers,” adds Brown. “Paying solar customers three and four times the cost of retail generation clearly isn’t the answer. Rather, regulators are going to have to scale back net metering rates and ensure that everyone who is hooked to the grid pays for the fixed costs of maintaining it.”
Many states, including Arizona, are looking at policy adjustments as well. (The New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission has a public hearing regarding its revisions on September 10 in Santa Fe.)
Subsidy-loving President Obama has launched an Arizona-specific campaign lauding those who have made “the switch” to solar and demanding that the ACC protects “full credit for clean energy.” If solar users paid for the panels on their own and cut the cord to the utility, then they truly have made the switch—as the rules stand now, they are just milking the system.
Obama’s involvement shows how important Arizona is to his desired national energy policy—supporting the inefficient, ineffective, and uneconomical models that line the pockets of his friends, while punishing the energy that makes America great. He is using the “global communication network to levy resources (human or otherwise) and generate wealth and political/ideological power.”
If the “reverse Robin Hood” policies are modified, the surging purchase and installation of solar panels will slow and more solar companies, funded through the nearly 100 billion of taxpayer dollars allotted to green energy through the 2009 stimulus bill, will go bankrupt. It is in Obama’s best interest to keep these policies that only exist because they “depend on government incentives and mandates” in place—but it is not in Arizona’s best interest, nor America’s. These policies “generate wealth” for Obama’s friends and “political/ideological power” for him.
It is not about whether or not you like rooftop-generated solar electricity, it is about whether or not the subsidized industry continues to make solar executives rich on the back of the average American. It is about continuing, or ending, the crony corruption that fills the solar industry. If you agree that it is time to end the solar subsidies and generous residential credits and that solar customers need to pay their share of grid maintenance and other non-generation costs, please sign the petition to tell the ACC that you support the proposed revisions.
Edward Fenster, chief executive of SunRun (which has received stimulus funds and is under a federal probe), believes “the next 6 to 12 months are the watershed moment for distributed energy.” He, of course, supports continuing the subsidies for solar power and understands that if his side succeeds, it will “dissuade utilities with net metering programs elsewhere from undoing them.”
The saying is usually “as California goes, so goes the nation.” In the case of generous solar credits, as Arizona goes, so goes the nation—which is why Obama’s proxy war in the desert has the potential to directly impact far more Americans than the shots being fired in Syria’s desert.
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Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here
Posted by JR at 4:07 PM