Thursday, October 27, 2022

Green New World: As heating oil runs low and prices soar in N.Y. and the northeast, news agencies tell Americans to grab a blanket

By Robert Romano

Home heating prices are soaring this coming winter, especially in New York and the northeast, where heating oil shortages are looming before the winter has even begun.

On Oct. 13, there was a 26-day supply of home heating oil left for the northeast U.S.

By Oct. 24, it was down to a 25-day supply, the lowest since 1993, as calls to release the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve have already begun, and it’s not even November yet.

According to, if released the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve could boost supplies for about a week or two: “The reserve would give Northeast consumers supplemental supplies for approximately 10 days, the time required for ships to carry additional heating oil from the Gulf of Mexico to New York Harbor.”

Amid the shortages — not merely confined to oil — the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the cost of heating American households will increase 27 percent to $2,354 this winter for heating oil, 10 percent by electricity to $1,359, 5 percent for propane to $1,668, and 28 percent for natural gas to $931. 

This is what happens when every country in the world deliberately shuts down production, as it did in 2020, not just for petroleum but all commodities and other products during the Covid economic lockdowns. Production still has not caught up to pre-Covid levels, even as demand has continued to increase.

The short-sightedness, exacerbated by green policies designed to disincentivize oil and coal production and consumption, has meant the supply crunch was not met with a production surge as inflation instead consumed household spending, and with the crisis further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, another recession is already upon the global economy. In that sense, it is also wartime rationing.

Now, news agencies have even begun promoting the rationing, for example, Fox 61 in Connecticut interviews one elderly homeowner who is already stockpiling blankets for her home.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Mark Williams tells Ohioans, “Grab a blanket: Heating costs to soar this winter.”

Anecdotally, I listened to a similar report on local WMAL in northern Virginia last week, urging listeners to get blankets because of surging home heating costs this winter.

In Europe, where home heating prices are even higher, electric blanket sales (and prices) are soaring in the UK and Germany, a craze that could easily stretch across the Atlantic.

Dressed up as noble conservation, the language is plain and clear: We don’t have enough energy to stay warm. This is what a reduced carbon economy looks like in the winter, and over the longer term, in New York, the northeast and the rest of the U.S., blankets might be little comfort in what looks like it will be a brutal transition into the Green New World.


EV Owners Pay Up: It Costs $6,100 Just to Replace GMC Hummer EV Taillights

Would you pay over $7,000 to replace a set of taillights?

According to Car and Driver, that could be the cost — depending on local taxes and the prevailing labor rates where you live — to replace the taillights on the new GMC Hummer EV SUT.

That expense, of course, would come only after you’d shelled out $110,000 to buy the thing in the first place — or, perhaps more likely, while you were repaying the bank for shelling out that amount on your behalf.

Of course, if you can afford that sticker price, maybe $3,045.48 per taillight plus labor and taxes wouldn’t mean much to you. Maybe you replace your car every time the ashtrays get full. (I know; it’s an old joke. I can’t remember the last time I saw a new car with an ashtray.)

The issue came up when an owner posted in a Hummer EV Facebook group about needing a “new passenger side rear light” for his vehicle, according to The Drive. (If I paid $110,000 for an automobile, I’d probably need to join a support group, too.)

That driver was quoted $4,040 for the part alone, plus labor.

Even at the MSRP, The Drive noted that replacing both taillights would run an owner more than 5 percent of the total purchase price of the sport-utility truck. That’s … something else.

The Drive was unable to confirm the reason for that pricing, but the website’s speculation seemed reasonable.

“The taillights in the Hummer EV have small microcontrollers installed within them,” they wrote. “These chips control unique lighting functions in their respective lights, like the animations in the headlamps.”

OK, cool, I guess. But it makes me wonder if I could get a cheaper, animation-less version that just, you know, tells drivers behind me when I’m braking and turning and stuff. Cars did that pretty well 60 years ago before microcontrollers were even invented, I believe.

“Additionally, the Hummer EV is a fairly limited-run vehicle thus far, meaning parts are generally more expensive until economies of scale kick in,” The Drive added. That I can understand, and it provides at least some reason to hope that parts prices will moderate over time.

That’s a reflection of the newness of the electric vehicle industry overall, in part. Another reflection of that newness has been the problems with electric vehicles that keep making the news.

One Hummer failed in spectacular fashion in the middle of the road when it inexplicably went into “safe” mode and had to be towed before someone rear-ended it.

That vehicle was reportedly brand new, with only 250 miles on it.

Then there was the Hummer that managed to pull a trailer only 128 miles before needing a recharge — which would require unhitching the trailer if the driver wanted to use the faster, more powerful charger.

Of course, electric vehicles are cheaper to run than gas vehicles in most cases, and if you have solar power to charge yours and do a little careful planning, you can practically drive it for free — locally at least. That’s assuming you can afford to buy it in the first place.

Obviously, fuel cost isn’t the only point at issue when choosing a new car, but it’s certainly not an unimportant one.

So, the question remains: Would you pay over $7,000 to replace a set of taillights?

Yeah … me neither.


Long-term Greenie journalist Graham Readfearn is still looking at the world through one-eye

He does his best  below  to make a case against the use of coal in Australia, but mainly does so by quoting fellow Greenies.  The blithe mention of "storage" as an alternative to burning coal is amusing.  What storage?  Snowy 2 is not yet up and may nevrer be, Qeeensland's pumped storage is pie in the sky and would be so expensive that it will remain there, and the available battery storage is tiny and short-lived relative to demand.

And there is some very stretched reasoning below.  Look at the statement "I’m not aware of any time where we have had a blackout because renewable energy hasn’t supplied sufficient electricity.”

It's a true statement.  But why?  Because every time we were on the brink of a blackout because of failing wind and solar, coal and gas generators have stepped into makeup the shortfall.  Lose those generators and the blackouts will be extensive and long

In Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, columnist Erin Molan turned the caps lock on to declare “WE NEED COAL”. It’s tempting to respond with “NO WE DON’T” and leave it at that. But there are certain expectations from a fact-checking column.

Molan argued clean and renewable alternatives to fossil fuels with the “infrastructure in place” to support them did not currently exist. Let’s test that.

Alison Reeve, an energy and climate expert at the Grattan Institute, said in the electricity market “coal has been doing two things”. “Providing electrons and system stability. The renewables can substitute the electrons and we can use other things – like storage and demand management – to find system stability. “So you only need coal to the extent that you don’t have those other things lined up yet.”

She said while there were legitimate concerns about the pace that storage and other measures were being added, “that’s not a case for keeping coal”.

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s blueprint for the expected future of the electricity market – a plan released after consulting more than 15,000 analysts and stakeholders – also disagrees with Molan. That plan includes several scenarios for the future, but the one Aemo says experts think is most likely sees 60% of coal generating capacity gone by 2030. Why?

“Competition, climate change and operational pressures will intensify [for coal] with the ever-increasing penetration of firmed renewable generation,” the plan says.

Oh yes, climate change. Burning coal is the biggest single contributor to the climate emergency.

Since Aemo’s blueprint was released in late June, both the Queensland and Victoria state governments have announced major energy plans mapping the exit route for coal that are broadly in line with Aemo’s plans.

Neither state sees a future in burning coal, with the polluting fuel practically gone in both states by 2035.

Coalmining is also responsible for about one fifth of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from methane, according to official figures. The actual number, according to data from the International Energy Agency, could be double that.

As the Albanese government this week signed a global pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, mining more coal will make those targets – nonbinding, but geopolitically significant – harder to reach.

Molan claimed in her column there was “ample evidence in recent years of times and occasions when renewables just haven’t been able to supply our energy needs”, but didn’t actually offer any evidence.

This is a strange interpretation of how the electricity market works. Reeve was puzzled. “It’s a mixed system and you will always have the generation you need to meet the demand. “The percentage provided by renewables fluctuates, but I’m not aware of any time where we have had a blackout because renewable energy hasn’t supplied sufficient electricity.”


The chilling reality of The Australian Labor Party's  green dream: Bills soar by 56% as $20 BILLION is spent on a 'renewables friendly' electricity grid and $46M for a UN energy conference - while the PM hands millions to extremists who dream of driving Australia into energy poverty

Despite constant claims renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels the billions being poured into greening Australia's power and hosting UN climate talkfests appears to be only driving up the price of electricity.

Labor went into the May election with a promise of slashing electricity bills by $275 a year, a pledge that was meant to be delivered by its commitment to renewables. 

However, Tuesday's Budget instead predicted a staggering 56 per cent hike in prices in the next year on top of the already ballooning bills. 

But at the same time the Albanese government announced they will funnel $10 million into climate activist groups the Environmental Defenders Office and Environmental Justice Australia.

When asked about this in parliament on Wednesday Prime Minister Anthony Albanese repeated the mantra of his government.  'The cheapest form of new energy in this country is renewables,' he said.

On budget night Treasurer Jim Chalmers told the ABC that despite him not being able to predict when prices would come down the $25 billion being spent on various climate change measures would help.  'Renewable energy isn't just cleaner energy, it's cheaper energy as well,' Chalmers said.

North Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, who is a strong proponent of mining and fossil fuel, strongly disagreed with both the Prime Minister and Treasurer.  'Power prices are going up because we are investing too much in renewable energy that is not on all the time,' Senator Canavan told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday. 'Australia has been building more solar and wind per person than any country in the world.'

A particular Budget item that Senator Canavan latched onto was the almost $50 million the Albanese government has committed to 'restoring Australia's reputation'.

The centerpiece of this measure will be hosting UN-overseen conference in partnership with Pacific island nations to build clean energy partnerships and agreements . 

'Labor can't help you with your power bills but they are going to spend $46 million of your money to host a UN climate conference,' Senator Canavan tweeted on Tuesday night. 

He expanded on this in a response to Daily Mail Australia. 

'Instead of spending money on helping rich people attend a climate talkfest, the Australian Government should be using our coal, gas and uranium to make more power and bring down living costs for struggling Australian families,' he said. 

'The Government is wasting our money by funding more jobs for climate bureaucrats.'

The budget contains a mind-boggling multitude of green projects, subsidies and new government agencies to bring about the Albanese government's commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

There is even $8.1 million to improve the energy efficiency of seaweed farmers. 

However, by far the biggest sum, $20 billion, will be for rewiring the nation's grid to make it more renewable energy friendly. 

On top of this $275 million will be spent on getting more electric cars on the road while $224 million will toward the community batteries that will store power from household solar panels. 

Re-establishing 'international climate leadership' will cost $296 million, of which $200 million will go to help Indonesia with green projects. 

A new agency, the national health sustainability and climate unit, will inform Australia's 'health response' to climate change.  

The green bureaucracy will also be beefed up by the injection of a further $194 million, with $102 million to restore the Climate Change Authority and $64 million to rebuild Treasury's climate modelling capability. 

Senator Canavan delivered a scathing assessment of what the new public servants would achieve.  

'Power prices won't be lowered from a desk in Canberra, they can only be lowered by building more generators across our nation,' he said. 

The Environmental Defenders Office have campaigned to block laws aimed at stopping disruptive climate protests, such as the protests that halted coal loading at Sydney's Port Botany earlier this year.  

Environmental Justice Australia lobbies against new coal and gas projects and organised a group of children and teens to claim Australia's lack of action on climate change violated their human rights to the United Nations.

To support his claim that renewables are cheaper Mr Albanese cited agreement from the Business Council of Australia, the Australian industry group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the National Farmers' Federation.

However, this has not been backed up by players in the electricity market. Major energy retailers told a conference in October that replacing coal and gas with renewable energy is the major reason power prices are sky-rocketing.

'Next year, using the current market prices, tariffs are going up a minimum 35 per cent,' Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery said at the Sydney event. 'It's horrendous, it's unpalatable. We don't want energy consumers getting their power bills and setting fire to them.'

In September reports by sector watchdogs the Energy Security Board and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) both pointed at switching to renewables as a major reason power price surges.

Dr Chalmers pointed to 'inflationary pressures' for the power price increase but electricity bills have been outstripping inflation by as much as 8 per cent.

The war in Ukraine is often pointed to as major contributor to worldwide inflation but Australia is energy sufficient in coal and gas and an exporter of those things, although international prices can influence the domestic price.

Coal prices are surging but this reflects a turning away from renewables in many countries.

With the Ukraine war threatening its gas supplies Germany has began bringing around 20 of its coal power plants back online.   




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