Tuesday, December 18, 2018

PURPA should be modernized or repealed

By Robert Romano

At the height of 1970s inflation and in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo, Congress passed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978. The legislation requires electric utilities to purchase energy from small renewable generators.

It has also outlived its usefulness. Since that time, wind, solar and other renewables, excluding hydroelectric, have grown to almost 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Back in 1978, it was 0.14 percent.

Obviously, a lot can change in 40 years. Fortunately, in 2005, Congress amended PURPA in order to take stock of rapid changes in the utility marketplace. In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced it was considering changes and reforms to the program, including which entities ought to be excluded from PURPA’s mandatory purchase of renewable energy requirement.

One argument is that the renewable generators have a large enough market footprint to compete on their own without compelling utilities to use the renewable energy. Each local market is different, whereas in some areas, the additional generation can offset potential brownouts and might be desirable, in other areas with more abundant supplies, it’s simply a wealth transfer from the utility to the small generator as the additional renewable electricity adds little benefit to consumers and instead drives up costs higher than they might otherwise be.

In one comment to FERC, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners noted that some states already require competition, making PURPA redundant. The association urged that utilities that “are subject to state competitive solicitation requirements and other best practices that ensure all technologies access to the market” ought to be exempt.

It’s a reasonable comment. In states where consumers already get to choose where to purchase their electricity, what is the sense in compelling competing utilities to subsidize one another? Shouldn’t they be allowed to compete price and benefit consumers?

The real question is whether FERC and Congress are going to let states develop their own energy grids and their own requirements for how competition ought to take place on these modern grids. One size does not fit all, and depending on supplies and abundance, the current requirements could be discouraging some potential utilities from coming online if subsidizing smaller generators is a cost that must be taken into account.

Going even further is S. 2776 by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), which would eliminate the mandatory purchase requirements by utilities altogether. And maybe it’s time.

In the least Congress should take into consideration what FERC comes up with to modernize PURPA and the electric grid based on industry comments, and potentially act accordingly if it is found that PURPA’s mandates are no longer necessary to support the renewable electricity industry. PURPA should be modernized or if it is no longer needed, repealed.


There Is No Economic Reason to Continue Federal Tax Credit for Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are the darlings of the automobile industry. In addition to Tesla, all of the traditional automakers – both here and abroad – have been pouring billions of dollars into developing new EVs while slowly abandoning the production of gasoline-powered vehicles.

But while EVs may be innovative technological marvels, old-fashioned subsidies continue to drive the industry. The federal government provides a tax credit to EV purchasers of $7,500 for the first 200,000 vehicles sold by any individual manufacturer. Once an EV manufacturer reaches that sales milestone, the tax credit is gradually decreased over the subsequent 15 or so months. Individual states have sweetened the subsidy pot further, offering rebates up to $5,000, along with subsidies for installing home and business charging stations, subsidies for installing home and business solar panels, “free” charging stations along major highways, and even preferred access to carpool lanes. And just to make sure EVs are adopted, some states have implemented mandates that require increasing percentages of new vehicles sold to be EVs.

Now, two bills introduced in the Senate propose radically different paths for the EV industry. Senator John Barrasso’s (R-WY) legislation (S. 3559, the “Fairness for Every Driver Act”) would eliminate the federal tax credit for EVs immediately and impose a user fee on EV owners to compensate for their not paying the gasoline taxes that are used to maintain the federal highway system. Senator Dean Heller’s (R-NV) bill (S. 3582), on the other hand, would expand the federal tax credit by eliminating the 200,000 vehicle cap, but then would phase out subsidies beginning in 2022.

Subsidies, however, are like powerfully addictive drugs: once started, they are a difficult habit to kick. The production tax credit for wind generators, for example, was supposed to have ended years ago. Instead, it has been extended numerous times. And, while it is now slated to end with wind turbines built next year, there are moves in Congress to extend it yet again. Thus, Senator Barrasso’s bill, while noble in its economic intent, will likely to face fierce opposition from automobile manufacturers and states who believe EVs will help “solve” climate change.

Because of the allure of subsidies, Senator Heller’s bill may become a fiscal nightmare. For example, if EV sales increase to one million per year – a relatively small percentage compared to the 16 million or so annual sales of gasoline-powered vehicles – the tax credit alone would cost $7.5 billion each year. And as EV sales increase – helped by the continued Federal tax credit – the loss of revenues to the Highway Trust fund that maintains the federal highway system will accelerate. For example, an EV owner who would otherwise purchase 500 gallons of gasoline per year in a similar gasoline-powered vehicle avoids about $95 per year in federal gasoline taxes (to say nothing of lost state gasoline taxes). As EV sales increase, the annual loss in gasoline tax revenues will grow rapidly. If an additional one million EVs are sold each year, the tax loss would increase at a rate of $100 million dollars per year.

With massive investment in EVs by automobile manufacturers, there is simply no economic reason to continue the federal tax credit, much less expand it as Senator Heller’s bill would. Nor is there any reason to subsidize EV owners who use federal highways, but do not pay the gasoline taxes needed to maintain them.

Yet, EV subsidies have an even more pernicious impact owing to their inequality. As my recent Manhattan Institute report on EVs discussed, EV subsidies have primarily benefitted the wealthy. A 2017 nationwide survey found that over half of EV buyers had annual household incomes of at least $100,000, and almost one-fifth had household incomes above $200,000. These subsidies, therefore, come at the expense of lower-income consumers, many of whom cannot afford to purchase new vehicles of any kind, much less EVs that are, on average, costlier. Moreover, these lower-income drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles will shoulder an increasing burden of highway maintenance costs.

Senator Barrasso’s bill would address this fundamental inequality and introduce sorely needed economic and fiscal sanity to the EV gravy train. In contrast, Senator Heller’s bil would make things even worse.


As France Burns Over Fuel Tax, Democrats In The US Call For A ‘Green New Deal’

As the worst unrest to grip France in 50 years rages on, triggered by a pending climate change fuel tax (since postponed), President Macron announced a slate of measures designed to appease the masses. Included in the government giveaways: a minimum wage hike of about $1.75 an hour, no taxes on overtime pay and reforming pension benefits for low-wage earners.

Macron said in a national address, “I know I’ve hurt some of you with my words” and then declared “an economic and social state of emergency.” But perhaps that state of emergency is due to the protesters viewing the proposed “green” fuel tax increase is a little more harmful than words.

Meanwhile, the unrest in France appears to be spreading elsewhere in Europe.

Here in America, will Democratic members of Congress and their climate activist allies learn the lessons of France?

If France can erupt into riots over what amounted to a 25 cent per gallon tax hike on gas — 10 cents on diesel — on top of fuel prices of a little more than $7 per gallon, imagine the electoral drubbing that awaits a party that enacts far higher fuel taxes. But more on that in a moment.

Of course, prior to enacting any ambitious program of tax hikes, carbon dioxide emission restrictions, mandates, subsidies, and a large government R&D push, the stage must be set. These ideas must gain public acceptance.

With only 45 percent of Americans seeing global warming as a serious threat in their lifetimes, more work has to be done to convince U.S. voters to accept actions that will cause their standards of living to fall.

That’s where climate change studies, with their temperature models and allied economic assumptions come in. It’s also where things start to get hinky. The global temperature predictions published by the latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say the planet is likely going to be another 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer sometime between 2030 and 2052.

To prevent that 0.5-degree increase from going higher, the U.N. experts estimate that there will have to be some sort of global tax on carbon dioxide equivalents of something in the range of $157 to $7,018 per ton by 2030 (in current dollars).

Since each gallon of gasoline produces about 20 pounds of CO2 when it’s burned, the U.N. recommended carbon tax on gas could range from $1.41 per gallon all the way up to $63.66 (revised up from $49 per gallon in 2010 dollars in the U.N. climate report draft released in October).

This is a pretty wide range for both the projected rate of warming and the costs estimated to combat it.

So here’s an analogy. As a homeowner, you suspect your roof may leak in bad weather. But you’re not sure if there’s really a leak, or how bad it may be. You do know that the weather forecast says a category 5 hurricane may hit in a week or so (and it may not), and that weather event could include tornados and lightning. You’re understandably worried, so you call a roofer for a repair estimate.

But when that estimate comes back, it’s anywhere from $1,570 to $70,180. And the roofer warns you that if the worst-case scenario happens, your house will be flattened anyway, so the roof won’t matter.

With such big unknowns for the weather and no firm cost—or real guarantee—for the roof repair, no one would blame you for putting off the repair, until you were sure there’s a leak in the first place.

In the same way, we have no firm costs and no real guarantees with carbon taxes. Those unelected U.N. report-writers may be comfortable calling for climate change gas taxes as high as $64 per gallon — or just $1.41 per gallon — but the actual elected politicians in France are about to be turned out of office for daring to impose a 25-cent-per-gallon tax.

American climate activists are trying to be a little more subtle about it, and this is where the “Green New Deal” comes in. As Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez describes it, “This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.”

Rather than raise taxes directly on energy — something that would be transparent, honest and efficient economically (while being deadly at the ballot box) — the Green New Deal aims to seize control of the economy by promising a “green” job to every American who wants one.

The promised employment would include things like building electric cars and installing wind turbines and solar panels. And of course, the jobs would be union jobs (with the added bonus that 99.9 percent of the dues money would go to Democrats).

This massive intervention in the American economy would end up costing voters the equivalent of $1.41 to $64 dollars per gallon in indirect costs brought about by government intervention. It’s just that the costs would be hidden. The cost of living — for fuel, food, electricity — would soar, but direct taxes on the consumer would be obscured.

The funny thing about the Green New Deal is how much it looks like standard, old-school progressive politics from the 1930s, just dusted off and given a new, urgent patina to address the threat of climate change.

The Green New Deal isn’t green, it isn’t new, and it’s not a deal.


“We are still in” totalitarians flunk basic reality

They raged against energy and climate realists in Katowice, but should serve time for fraud

Paul Driessen

The 30,000 alarmists gathered in Katowice, Poland expected to slam-dunk their report proclaiming a planet-threatening climate crisis, finalize rules for implementing the Paris accords, redistribute infinite billions of dollars from industrialized nations to “climate victim” countries, and solidify their control over people’s energy, jobs, living standards and liberties. It didn’t work out quite that way.

They got blindsided by millions of French citizens angrily denouncing their government’s plans to carbon-tax them into worse poverty and joblessness. They were furious that the US exhibit profiled the benefits of fossil fuels – and outraged that the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were willing to “note” the climate report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to “welcome” it or “accept” its assertions about climate cataclysms and the need to slash fossil fuel use.

They were appalled that countries the world over are using more and more fossil fuels every year.

One of the more amusing “climate chaos” exhibits at the IPCC gabfest targeted President Trump’s decision to take the USA out of the Paris not-a-treaty. It proudly declared “We are still IN” – and asserted that its “movement” represents “thousands” of American cities, states, businesses, universities and other entities that “have taken up the mantle of climate leadership.”

Climatologist David Legates and I wrote about this fatuous, fraudulent, hypocritical outfit a year ago. But it’s useful to reexamine the various ways it actually is (or is not) “still IN.”

* We are still IN and committed to the restrictive, punitive, anti-hydrocarbon Paris regime – except when it comes to benefitting ourselves from coal, oil and natural gas … to fly or drive to Poland; heat and light our homes, offices, hotel rooms and exhibits; eat well; dress in synthetic fibers, or in cotton or woolen garments made possible by fossil fuels; and utilize hydrocarbons for cell phones, computers, cosmetics, chairs and display boards at our exhibits, eyeglasses, wind turbine blades and countless other products.

Despite their interminable moral preening, does anyone really think they will ever give any of this up?

* We are still INtransigent in our demands, our refusal to civilly debate any climate or energy issues – and our determination to ignore the horrendous ecological impacts of our ideas, and the even worse impacts that our demands have on other people’s jobs and living standards. And especially how our demands ensure that African and Asian parents and children have energy-deprived, impoverished, malnourished, diseased, brutally short lives.

In fact, instead of acknowledging any of this, the “still IN” crowd – the arrogant, callous, totalitarian ruling elites … and renewable energy crony corporatists allied with them – simply double down on their demands and plans. The new crop of “progressive” Democrat-Socialists coming to the US House of Representatives in 2019 intends to emphasize “dangerous manmade global warming and climate change” in numerous hearings, policies and bills.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-S–NY) and colleagues have already proposed a separate House global warming committee, a Green New Deal – and 100% wind, solar and biofuel power by 2030!

* We are still IN contempt of what poor, middle class, blue collar and Third World families so desperately need: affordable, reliable energy – and the well-paying jobs and affordable goods, services and healthcare that come with it. We will “allow” them to improve their lives, but only as far as may be possible with limited, unreliable, weather-dependent, expensive “renewable” energy.

It’s no wonder 200 prominent Golden State civil rights leaders have sued the California Air Resources Board, claiming its greenhouse gas policies are “racist” and disproportionately raise electricity, housing, transportation, food and hiring costs for Latino and African-Americans, for no environmental benefits. Poor countries should consider bringing similar human rights lawsuits in US, EU and international courts.

* We are still IN denial – of the negative impacts that our eco-imperialist, carbon-colonialist policies have on rural, poor, minority and working class families in the United States, and on billions of people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and former Soviet/Eastern Bloc nations. We are also IN denial of the failed predictions of climate models – and IN denial of scientific evidence that contradicts our assertions that Earth is warming rapidly, bringing unprecedented chaos and cataclysms.

As I have pointed out in numerous articles – and as websites like WattsUpWithThat, ClimateDepot and DrRoySpencer discuss in readily understandable language – there is no valid, replicable, scientific evidence that humans or fossil fuel emissions have replaced the powerful natural forces that have always governed Earth’s complex, frequently changing climate and weather systems.

There is no evidence that humans can control those systems by tweaking the concentration of molecules that together represent roughly 0.042% of Earth’s atmosphere. There is no evidence that expensive, unpredictable, pseudo-renewable energy can replace the 80% fossil fuel energy that currently powers the US and world economies – certainly not without severe consequences for people and planet. Computer models, hype, hysteria, headlines and zealotry are no substitute for honest, fact-based, replicable science.

* We are IN cahoots with the IPCC, far-left politicians, Climate-Industrial Complex companies, the “mainstream” media, and social media behemoths like Google, You Tube, Face Book and Twitter. Together, we control what people are able to find, see, hear, think, say and do about these issues.

Climate realists are fighting back, and true free speech alternatives to Twitter & Comrades are arising.

* We are INtolerant of any views that contradict our own. We not only refuse to debate. We refuse to allow debate. We are contemptuous of “civil society” norms for civil discourse. We will always resort to totalitarian power, mob rule and the sheer weight of equally closed-minded, ill-informed intellectuals, students, urban voters and ruling elites … to impose our climate, energy and economic ideologies.

In one of the most egregious cases ever, the UN and IPCC gave their explicit permission, encouragement and blessing to radical protesters at the Katowice COP-24 conference. They let the INtolerants disrupt and shut down the official US “innovative fossil fuel technologies” and “economic dynamism” presentation. The UN pre-authorized and pre-planned the loud interruptions, officially gave rabid protesters over seven minutes to rant and chant “Keep them in the ground” (fossil fuels, that is), and let them harass CFACT and other climate realists attending the event.

When UK author and policy analyst Rupert Darwall challenged the obnoxious hecklers, UN security guards immediately restrained Darwall and told him to shut up or be thrown out of the conference!

Why the United States should tolerate any of this – much less pay for it – is hard to fathom.

* The climate-obsessed IN-crowd is INsatiable in its hunger for global power – but INcapable of dealing with reality and INsane for endlessly repeating the same tired tropes, ignoring evidence that contradicts its claims, vilifying scientists who disagree with them, and ignoring the enormous benefits of fossil fuels.

Amid virtually all their politicized campaigns, these groups appear to be engaged in climate science and energy fraud. Whether it’s global temperatures, changing weather patterns, Arctic, Antarctic or Greenland ice, hurricanes and tornados, wildfires, floods or droughts – or the need for and viability of renewable energy – deception, misrepresentation, disinformation and even fabrication are their stock in trade.

Those tactics would bring small armies of regulators (perhaps accompanied by armed SWAT teams) swarming into the offices of almost any other companies or organizations.

It’s depressing that politicians and tax-exempt pressure groups are generally exempt from such “inquiries.” But the dishonest, profiteering companies that ally with climate alarmists may not be. Perhaps a few enterprising AGs, FBI offices, public interest law firms, or SEC and FTC investigators will be inspired to examine some of these ethics, securities and truth-in-advertising issues.

Via email

Australia: Anti-coal protestors interrupt Labor Party leader's keynote address

Bill Shorten’s keynote speech at Labor’s National Conference this morning got off to an awkward start as he was ambushed by protesters.

The audience of 400 delegates and 1000 observers at the Adelaide Convention Centre had been thoroughly warmed up by Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, national president Wayne Swan and South Australian opposition leader Peter Malinauskas when Mr Shorten finally strolled onto the stage.

A protester, 25-year-old Isaac Astill, quickly appeared next to him. As Mr Shorten took his position behind the lecturn, Mr Astill stood beside him and unfurled a banner bearing the words “Stop Adani”.

“Will you please stop the Adani coal mine? There are bushfires across Queensland, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is heading for a third bleaching event, we have to stop the Adani coal mine,” he said.

“Oh mate. Alright,” Mr Shorten said, before letting Mr Astill make his point.

“Thanks for making that statement. Do I get to keep the flag?” he asked. “You can keep the flag if you like, absolutely, of course,” the protester replied.

“Good on you mate, cheers. See ya,” Mr Shorten said.

“Really appreciate it Mr Shorten. It’s going to be so important you do that. Thank you, catch you later. I really hope you come out with a commitment to stop the mine.”

“No it’s all good. Thank you very much, I appreciate you making your point.”

At that point, Mr Swan intervened, and a security guard removed Mr Astill from the stage.

“I think our visitor should leave the stage now,” Mr Swan said. “Show him the way out, thank you.”

But the fiasco continued, as more protesters appeared at Mr Shorten’s other shoulder.

“OK. Which one’s this?” he quipped.

“We’ll call for the escorts,” Mr Swan interjected.

“We’re Australia’s oldest political party. We have a proud history of democracy, we all understand the right to protest. But that doesn’t include the right to drown out the leader of the opposition. So could you please leave the stage?”

When he finally got some clear air, Mr Shorten addressed the crowd. “I know these people are well-intentioned, but the only people they’re helping is the current government of Australia,” he said.

“I’ve waited for the next election for five years and if I’ve got to wait a couple more minutes, I just will. “People have got a right to protest, but you’ve got to ask yourself when you see these protests — who’s the winner? It’s the Coalition. “We’ve already had two protests and goodness knows what the current Prime Minister will do to try to upstage them.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


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