Archive for January, 2011

More on the British Experience…

January 30, 2011

In China, the true cost of Britain’s clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale:  Global Green Economy

 

Getting Rid of Energy Subsidies…?

January 27, 2011

Government Energy Subsidy is an unintended “Shape-Shifter” — the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s ethanol rules have resulted in what the DoE says will require 4.8 billion of this year’s 12 + billion bushel U.S. corn crop to satisfy ethanol demand.  Corn prices have risen 70% since July ’10 on higher demand and shorter crops.    What do you think this does to food costs everywhere?

Take a look at Wind’s Portfolio of Subsidies in the U.S.:  “Accelerated Depreciation”, “Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)”, “Investment Tax Credit (ITC)”, “Cash Grant in Lieu of ITC”,  “U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Grants”, “DoE Loan Program”, “Additional DoE Subsidies – wind energy R&D grants”, “Mandated use of ‘renewable’ energy by Federal Agencies”,  “Wind Farm Land Use Mandated by U.S. Government for Bureau of Land Management and US. Forest  Service managed Land”, “Federal Tax Subsidies for Wind Farm Equipment Mfrs.”, “State Tax Subsidies for ‘wind farm’ owners”, and we don’t want to leave out “Local Governemnt and Economic Development Agency Tax Subsidies”.

And there are the “nuclear energy subsidies” — Nuclear is a loser only to the extent that government policy and environmental bigotry prevent it from becoming a winner.

Sometimes government “subsidies” are really a form of extortion. Case in point – federal nuclear loan guarantees. The orginal purpose was to cover the very real risk that government could wipe out billions of private investment through changes in licensing and regulation of nuclear power plants. It has happened more than once in the institutional memory of Wall Street and utility management. It would cover ONLY regulatory risk. It would require that our government put some skin in the game that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission runs, along with the environmental bigotry litigation.  Today, an investor is faced with the cold fact that if he doesn’t apply for and receive this loan guarantee, the likelihood is that the project will eventually NEED it, because of NRC changes, and environmental lawsuits. Hence, U.S. private enterprise has to participate. To not take a guarantee is to expose the U.S. nuclear private investors to future extortion demands from U.S. government officials.

Cut Energy Off The Dole

New Service Idea

January 12, 2011

We’ve posted a new PGN service concept on the PGN App Services Page — Smart Grid Appliances and Time-of-Use Tariffs — How They Can Help Each Other

Charging Just For Value Delivered

January 11, 2011

According to the Denver Post, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission sliced $16.6 million off the $44.5 million cost (so far) of the SmartGridCity project charge-back in its tariff base until its managing utility, Xcel Energy, can show the Boulder-based project’s benefits to Colorado rate-payers.  When SmartGridCity began in 2008, the total cost was estimated at $100 million and Xcel Energy’s share was projected at only $15.3 million — the remainder to be paid by companies partnering in the pilot.  However, by 2010, Xcel’s share ballooned up to $44.5 million.  PUC Commissioner James Tarpey noted in testimony that “an Xcel official had said that if there had been a cap on expenses, the utility would not have conducted the pilot.  The message was, ‘yeah, we really want to do it, but not with our money…'”

According to Leslie Glustrom, a private citizen who intervened in the case before the Colo. PUC, the problem with the project was that it spent too freely and lacked sufficient planning and budgetary oversight.  Colo.’s Consumer Counsel argued that in ’09 when the project jumped up to $27.9 million, Xcel should have scaled back, and expenses beyond that should not be compensated.

Boulder residents involved in the SmartGridCity pilot say the value is still ‘debatable’.  “It really doesn’t do much,” said Steve Pomerance, a former Boulder City Council member who has a smart meter attached to his home.  “The system gives you information in 15-minute increments for the previous day, so to figure out how much electricity your refrigerator is using takes some figuring,” Pomerance said.  (Denver Post, M. Jaffe reporting, 6 Jan 11).

If you go to the SmartGridCity site listed in our GRID SITES  resource section on the right margin of this website, you will be able to access Xcel presentations of benefits derived from the SmartGridCity pilot efforts.  There is evidence that SmartGridCity applications have reduced voltage fluctuations (lowering energy costs) and decreased response time to outages in the Boulder test area — but these are not short-term benefits to rate-payers in the eyes of the PUC.  Rather, the PUC appears to view these effects as cost savings for the utility, Xcel Energy, that are reflected on its bottom line, enuring to the benefit of its stockholders, not its rate-payers.

Our Power Grid Network partnership removes this up-front cost to the utility for Smart Grid applications, because the PGN will provide application services based on usage fees charged to the utility after they are installed and working.  The PGN charges only for value delivered.

The benefit of PGN-delivered Smart Grid application services can be identified and allocated fairly — without the up-front capital expenditure pressure utilities are confronted with by conventional utility / rate-payer funded Smart Grid strategies.


Crisis Check in Espania

January 8, 2011

“…Hats off to The Energy Tribune, which has done a fabulous job of chronicling the end of Spain’s wind/solar/renewable bubble that has left the country $26 billion in debt and desperately trying to rev up nuclear power…”   Nuclear Townhall, 6 Jan 11

Crisis Check — Espania!