The Clean Energy Scam

So i’ve been offline the last couple days attending an AEI conference and preparing for Tuesday night’s Intelligence Squared debate in New York City on the topic “Clean Energy Can Drive America’s Economic Recovery,” which should be fun, as I’m paired with the estimable Robert Bryce (get his great books) on the team arguing the negative of the motion. I’ll post on how it goes on Wednesday.
Today’s Los Angeles Times offers a thorough smackdown of how this nonsense has unfolded in the community college system in southern California. The whole thing is worth reading, but a couple of samples convey the full catastrophe of this scam:

Given the cost of alternative energy technology, it would be more expensive for the district to generate all its own electricity than to continue paying utilities for power. . . One thing was for sure: No matter how it was financed, the bill for all those solar panels and wind turbines would be huge. Eisenberg’s cost estimates for taking the nine campuses off the grid ranged as high as $975 million — this for a college system that in 2010 spent less than $8 million on power bills. An engineering consultant put the cost far higher: $1.9 billion. . . Plans for large-scale wind power collided with the reality that prevailing winds at nearly all the campuses are too weak to generate much electricity. To date, a single wind turbine has been installed, as a demonstration project. It spins too slowly in average winds to power a 60-watt light bulb.

This is the same quality of thought widespread in Washington when it comes to energy. As I like to say, the basic metric of energy analysis and fuel comparison is the BTU (“British Thermal Unit”), while the basic metric of energy policy in Washington DC is the BSU (no definition required). If DC-BSU’s had the equivalent BTU content, we’d have solved all our energy problems before Jimmy Carter finished putting on that first Cardigan.

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