What Happens When Government Interference Skews The Free Market

America has been on a search for green energy for a long time. Historically man has been  on a quest for a perpetual motion machine. I am not sure the two searches are unrelated.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about the environmental impact of solar energy. Solar energy is not as environmentally friendly as one might assume.

The article cites the example of a 60-acre solar farm at the Minnesota National Guard’s facility at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.

The article reports:

If we devoted a fraction of that space to a natural gas, coal or nuclear facility we could produce 100 times the energy–even at night time, when people need to turn lights on.

It is sad to see military personnel who should know better, and probably do, mouthing the inane pieties of global warming:

“Camp Ripley is now capable of producing as much energy as it consumes,” said Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. “We can make a better Minnesota and a better world by joining the worldwide initiative to address the serious challenge of climate change.”

Right. We’d prefer you address the serious military challenge of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and so on. Tom Steward (Tom Steward in a story at the American Experiment) points out the costly reality:

The project’s astonishing $25 million price tag has led to the utility taking fire from state regulators for overpaying for solar panels and long-term lease with the National Guard. The collateral damage includes the northern Minnesota utility’s residential ratepayers, whose bills will rise as a result of the costly solar farm.

The solar facility can provide electricity for only 1,700 homes, a ridiculously small number, at “full capacity.” But solar installations never reach full capacity, and if it is dark or cloudy, they are irrelevant. No one would argue for ugly 60-acre scars on the landscape based on a cost/benefit analysis.

In Duluth, the best proxy for Camp Ripley, there are an average of 77 sunny days per year. Hey, that is better than one in five! Of course, they don’t have any sunny nights in Duluth, so there’s that.

Solar energy is not perfect. In 2014 I wrote an article about the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert. The solar energy complex has the potential to kill as many as 28,000 birds annually. Last month I wrote an article about Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a key chemical agent used to manufacture photovoltaic cells for solar panels. There has been a 1,057 percent in NF3 over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only rose by about 5 percent during the same time period. There are also problems with wind energy. Spain attempted to move to green energy a few years ago and nearly wrecked its economy (article here).

If the free market is allowed to work, we may actually approach something like green energy at some point in the future. However, as long as the government subsidizes and encourages things that are not actually working, the progress will be delayed.

 

The High Cost Of Solar Energy That Isn’t Solar Energy

On August 12, The Daily Signal posted an article about Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a taxpayer-subsidized solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. Most solar power plants (if not all) are taxpayer-subsidized, so that is not unusual. What is unusual is what the power plant has had to do to compensate for the desert weather conditions.

The article reports:

Ivanpah is different. It uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight for generating steam that then drives turbines. These turbines produce energy in a similar fashion to that of traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants.

However, Ivanpah has a problem those technologies don’t: intermittency. Meaning the sun doesn’t always shine.

For Ivanpah, this is an even bigger problem than it is for plants that use solar cells, because at night the temperature in the desert falls dramatically and the water cools down.

So, the water must be reheated the next morning before power production can resume. Instead of relying on the sun to reheat the water, the Ivanpah plant burns natural gas.

A true description of Ivanpah, then, is that it is a hybrid solar-natural gas power plant. The electricity is not entirely solar produced, yet it is sold at the higher prices regulators allow for solar power, a benefit worth millions of dollars per year to Ivanpah’s owners.

This is how the solar scam works:

That’s how Ivanpah hits the “bad policy” trifecta that is all too common in today’s heavily subsidized renewable energy markets:

Rich consortium gets huge subsidies from taxpayers to build a plant. Check.  Regulators OK a contract that forces consumers to pay four to five times the going rate for its product. Check. And the product actually is nowhere near as “green” as people thought it’d be. Check.

The inconvenient truth is that Ivanpah uses a lot of natural gas to generate “solar” electricity, and neither the California Energy Commission nor the U.S. Department of Energy seems to care enough to come clean about it.

I am not opposed to solar energy. What I am opposed to is government meddling in the free market to the point where healthy competition is prevented from developing a product to generate energy that would be clean, efficient, and cheap enough to use. Since the dawn of science, scientists have been looking for a perpetual motion machine, and I wonder if the search for green energy is going to have the same amount of success. There are laws of physics involved in generating energy that control the process regardless of what the government, the power companies, or the consumers may want. Those rules are not variable and play a major part in our success in creating renewable energy.

It Is About Time Someone Said This Loudly And Clearly

Donald Trump gave a speech yesterday in Dimondale, Michigan. I don’t know how much of it the mainstream media will report, so I am posting some highlights. The full text can be found at Heavy.com.

Here are a few highlights:

…But to achieve this New American Future, we must break free from the bitter failures of the past – and reject the same insiders telling us the same old lies.

No group in America has been more harmed by Hillary Clinton’s policies than African-Americans. If Hillary Clinton’s goal was to inflict pain on the African-American community, she couldn’t have done a better job.

Tonight, I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen in this country who wants a better future.

The inner cities of our country have been run by the Democratic Party for 50 years. Their policies have produced only poverty, joblessness, failing schools, and broken homes.

It is time to hold Democratic Politicians accountable for what they have done to these communities. It is time to hold failed leaders accountable for their results, not just their empty words.

Look at what the Democratic Party has done to the city of Detroit.

Forty percent of Detroit’s residents live in poverty. Half of all Detroit residents do not work.

Detroit tops the list of Most Dangerous Cities in terms of violent crime.

This is the legacy of the Democrat politicians who have run this city. This is the result of the policy agenda embraced by Hillary Clinton.

The only way to change results is to change leadership. We can never fix our problems by relying on the same politicians who created our problems in the first place.

…By contrast, the one thing every item in Hillary Clinton’s agenda has in common is that it takes jobs and opportunities from African-American workers. Her support for open borders. Her fierce opposition to school choice. Her plan to massively raise taxes on small businesses. Her opposition to American energy. And her record of giving our jobs away to other countries.

…Hillary Clinton’s plan would bring in an estimated 620,000 refugees in her first term – at a lifetime benefit cost of some $400 billion dollars, according to the U.S. Senate Immigration Subcommittee. She wants to be America’s Angela Merkel. By the way, for the price of supporting 1 refugee in the United States, we could support 12 in a safe zone in the Middle East.

The improved refugee screening standards I have proposed will save countless billions of dollars. We will invest a portion of the money saved in a jobs program for inner city youth.

The African-American community has given so much to this country. They’ve fought and died in every war since the Revolution. They’ve lifted up the conscience of our nation in the long march for Civil Rights. They’ve sacrificed so much for the national good. Yet, nearly 4 in 10 African-American children still live in poverty, and 58% of young African-Americans are not working.

…Michigan lost more than 1 in 4 of its manufacturing jobs since NAFTA. As you know, NAFTA was signed by President Bill Clinton. It was supported by Hillary Clinton. Right here, in this community, you’ve lost 1 in 7 manufacturing jobs since Bill Clinton put China into the World Trade Organization – another Hillary Clinton-backed deal. Detroit lost more than 1 in 3 manufacturing jobs following the NAFTA and WTO agreements supported by my opponent.

No industry has been hurt more by Hillary Clinton’s policies than the car industry. It’s been a total disaster.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, before NAFTA went into effect, there were 285,000 auto workers in Michigan. Today, that number is only 160,000.

In 2014, GM announced plans to double its investments in Mexico by 2018.

In April 2016, Ford Motor Company announced plans to invest $1.6 billion constructing an auto plant in Mexico.

That same month, Fiat Chrysler announced 1,300 layoffs. Lear Corporation launched plans to build two new factories in Mexico.

…Look at the world before and after she became Secretary of State.

Pre-Hillary, in early 2009, Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence.

Libya was stable.

Syria was under control.

The group we know today as ISIS was close to being extinguished.

Iran was being choked by sanctions.

Now, fast-forward to present time.

After Hillary, here is what the world looks like:

Iraq is in total chaos.

Syria is in the midst of a disastrous civil war and a refugee crisis now threatens Europe and the United States.

ISIS has been unleashed onto the entire world.

Iran – the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism – has been put on the path to nuclear weapons, and was given a $400 million ransom payment, something which has now been confirmed after President Obama’s lies.

This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and terrorism.

America deserves a better legacy. All of you deserve a better future. I am the change agent. Hillary Clinton is the defender of the status quo.

This speech reminds us of our recent history. It also highlights the fact that President Obama’s Administration has not been good for either the black or white community. The only people who have truly prospered under President Obama are the cronies that have been subsidized by the government–for example the green energy companies (some of which have gone bankrupt). President Obama has forced the closing of coal mines, and indications are that Hillary Clinton will continue in the same direction.

I have previously stated (and will continue to do so in the future) that Donald Trump is not a perfect candidate, but in this election cycle we do not have perfection. If he does what he says he will do in the speech he made yesterday, America will be better off. It is high time that Americans look at what forty or more years of Democrat control has done to some of our cities. If cities are a laboratory to experiment with economic policies, it is obvious that the economic policies applied have failed. I realize that there are multiple reasons for that, but the governing party has to share a large part of the responsibility. It is time for a change in our country and time for a change in our major cities. Donald Trump represents that change.

Solar Energy In Germany

As Americans learn about the amount of money the Obama Administration is spending to subsidize solar energy, there is an interesting report posted at The Association of Mature American Citizens website

The article reports:

Germany invested  gargantuan amounts of money in green energy, doling out more than 130 billion in  subsidies to install solar systems and spends an additional 10 billion per year  subsidizing existing solar installations.

Yet after all of this capital  expenditure, Germany has little to show in terms of reducing green house gasses  and helping the country’s power needs. Despite massive investment, solar power  accounts for approximately three percent of Germany’s total energy… when the  sun shines!  To add insult to injury, Germans also pay the second highest  price for electricity in the developed world, due mainly to the fact that they  are heavily subsidizing green energy by adding the cost to everyone’s utility  bills.

The article explains that Germany will be phasing out subsidies for solar energy over the next five years.

The article further reports:

According to Der Spiegel, members of Chancellor Merkel’s staff are  describing the policy as a massive money pit. Philipp Rösler, Germany’s minister  of economics and technology, has called the spiraling solar subsidies a “threat  to the economy.”

We need to learn from Germany’s experience.

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If Investors Ran Their Portfolios Like The Government Runs Theirs…

Today’s Detroit News reported today that the government has revised the estimated losses from the auto bailout up $170 million.

The article reports:

In the government’s latest report to Congress this month, the Treasury upped its estimate to $23.77 billion, up from $23.6 billion.

Last fall, the government dramatically boosted its forecast of losses on the rescues of General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC and their finance units from $14 billion to $23.6 billion.

Much of the increase in losses is due to the sharp decline of GM’s stock price over the last six months.

Three solar companies the government invested in went bankrupt or laid off workers last week. The losses in the bailout of the auto companies were considerably more than what was initially projected. Have we learned yet that the government should not be investing taxpayer money in private businesses? Government interference in the free market has done nothing but take large amounts of money out of taxpapayers’ pockets and increase the national debt. Someone is needed in Washington who can put a stop to the overspending and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

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Follow The Money On Solar Energy

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Yesterday the Associated Press reported that the Energy Department has approved two loan guarantees worth more than $1 billion for solar energy projects in Nevada and Arizona. These loans were approved under the same program that granted the Solyndra loans–a program that is scheduled to expire on September 30.

The article reports:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the department has completed a $737 million loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy for a 110 megawatt solar tower on federal land near Tonopah, Nev., and a $337 million guarantee for Mesquite Solar 1 to develop a 150 megawatt solar plant near Phoenix.

 Fox News reports:

The Obama Administration is giving $737 million to a Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve. PCG is an investment partner with SolarReserve. Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law happens to be the number two man at PCG.

 It gets worse. The Washington Examiner reports:

Despite the Solyndra failure, the Department of Energy continues to provide loan guarantees to solar companies, today giving Tonopah Solar a $737 million loan guarantee for a project in Nevada. Mitchell (Steve Mitchell) serves as a “board participant” for Solar Reserve, the parent company to Tonopah Solar, and his Solar Reserve biography says that he “currently sits on the Boards of Directors of . . . Solyndra” and several other companies. Argonaut, Mitchell’s primary employer, owns 3% of Solar Reserve, according to reports.

The Mitchell connection to Solar Reserve brings George Kaiser into the spotlight with respect to this latest loan guarantee. Kaiser owns Argonaut and thus invested in both Solyndra and Solar Reserve. He also bundled over $50,000 into President Obama’s campaign.

I really hate the idea of another Congressional investigation, but I think we need one on the money the government is giving to ‘green energy’ and who has received the money.

The money given out this week was the last of the money from a renewable energy loan program approved under the 2009 economic stimulus. It seems to me that the money would have been better spent in other areas. This really does look like ‘pay to play’ on the part of the Obama administration.

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