Flipping the Switch: Your Tax Dollars at Work

March 8, 2012

Yes, we’ve poured billions of tax dollars subsidizing the building of massive wind farms throughout the Columbia River Gorge. And now the turbines are being turned off because they’re producing too much power. And we’re paying them to shut down!

Fox News reports:

Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest — built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced — are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region’s electricity grid says there’s an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.

The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.

Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days… [Emphasis mine]

…Now, Bonneville is offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year.

The extra payout means energy users will eventually have to pay more. 

Of course they will. And most people aren’t happy with the solution. Even environmentalists think it’s a bad idea — not because of the waste of money, energy, or resources, you understand, but because it looks bad for business:

“It sends a very poor signal to the market about doing business in the Northwest,” said Rachel Shimshak, executive director of the Renewable Northwest Project. “We want the Northwest to be a good place to do business.”
Sadly, the Bonneville Power folks can’t really do anything about it. Why? (All together now…) Because of environmental regulations! Apparently shutting down the hydropower instead of the wind turbines is bad for the salmon in the river. Too much water over the dam is as bad for the fish as… well, supply your own bad pun here. 
I’d like to know why there isn’t a plan in place to handle the surplus energy that might be (and apparently has been) generated. Surely some of our tax dollars went to develop all sorts of contingencies about the combined power supply… and the best they could come up with was just turn it off? No way to divert the extra power to other areas of the region? Couldn’t we sell it to Canada? It’s not like we’d need to build a pipeline or anything.
In clean energy parlance, this is evidently a case of dammed if you do and damned if you don’t.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissy at Hot Air beat me to this by 10 minutes!  And he’s got video.

The White House Fly And Obama’s Golf Crisis

June 21, 2010


Gerry Ashley

Rough Costs: Gulf Spill vs. Exxon Valdez

June 17, 2010


Well, there are yet more numbers out there describing the Gulf oil “spew.” Now, the experts are mumbling numbers like 60,000 barrels/day of oil loosed upon the wave and shore. A bit of quick math (42 gal/barrel) says that we’re looking at something like 145 million gallons total so far, or 13 times that of the Exxon Valdez.

Of course, there are so many unknowns… We don’t really know how much oil has been lost; we don’t know what nearly a million gallons of dispersants are going to do to the area; we don’t know what happens to such a deep ecosystem given the 5,000′ depth of the blow-out; we don’t know how much crude will reach the shoreline and the wetlands… But even if we simply use the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill as a rough estimate, that was still a $4.5 billion cleanup–but Pricne William Sound is still feeling the effects. Using just that yardstick today ($654/gal), we’re looking at $95 billion, though that may in fact be just a fraction of the final amount.

And truth be told, the cleanup will no doubt reach a point of diminishing returns… For example (and this is just an example), BP might be able to remediate 75% of the damage at a cost of $40 billion, 80% at a cost of $50 billion, 83% at a cost of $75 billion, and 84% at a cost of $150 billion. Put another way, there will come a time when there just isn’t enough ecological bang for the (available) cleanup buck.

Obviously, that begs a nasty question… Just how many bucks does BP have? Try about $80 billion with their oil reserves. Uh oh. But as Reuters reported:

“The company generated cash of $7.7 billion from operating activities in the first quarter. Even after capital investment of $3.8 billion, it had $3.9 billion of free cash and the company says it has arranged significant credit lines…

“The upper end of analysts’ forecasts of total costs is around $30-$35 billion, with potential extra costs for lost fisheries business in years to come.

“Analysts say BP may not be able to cover such costs, and pay its dividend, out of cashflow alone, forcing additional borrowing.

However, the oil giant is believed to be able to do so without bringing its gearing levels above its targeted 20-30 percent range.”

My over-priced $.02 concerning the final cost of the cleanup? I’m guessing at best $50 billion—$100 billion if we’re lucky. (Who knows what it will amount to if the relief wells flop.) As the summer slogs by watch the shenanigans, follow the money, and watch out for PetroChina. Oh goody.

Alan Speakman

Approved Wind Farm Needs Backing: Cape Wind

June 11, 2010

For those of you not familiar with Cape Wind, it is a wind farm project (130 turbines) approved and destined for Horseshoe Shoals in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod. It has not been without its very vocal, and very wealthy critics

Honestly, I’m not going to waste your time with great detail… I’ve been writing about this ad nauseum. As a matter of fact, between Grand Rants, eBirdseed.com, and Harwich Spirits Shoppe Talk, I’ve posted upwards of a dozen blog entries on the subjects of wind power, North Harwich windmills, and the Cape Wind project. Include coverage of  damage done by oil, gas, and mining, and I have no idea the number. If you’re not familiar with the topic, about the best I can suggest is that you google and study.

Back to Cape Wind: While the wind farm has been green-lighted by the Secretary of the Interior, the decade-long battle isn’t over yet… CW still has to secure the National Grid/Cape Wind long-term power purchase contract, and hopefully, that’s where you come in. Quite simply, Cape Wind needs your support. Here’s their web site with all the details. (It’s pretty dang simple really.)

There’s little left to say now… About the only caveat I can offer is that I (we) ask that you consider what has happened in the last 53 days. The most recent government estimate suggests that the Gulf oil disaster is spewing the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez every 5 to 12 days with no definite end in sight. You do the math. Our country is facing an environmental disaster of unknown proportions and characteristics. And no, a wind farm couldn’t have prevented that. But at least it will take a tiny step or two in the right direction.

Anywho… We hope you take a look at the Cape Wind site. If you can’t attend any of the scheduled meetings (and you probably can’t, unless you live in Massachusetts) a letter would be a very good thing.

Alan Speakman

AP Reporter Enthusiastic But Not Too Bright

June 9, 2010


Well, this is a new one for me. Apparently a reporter from the Associated Press decided he wanted to see the Gulf oil slick in a new way, so he, er, dived right in. Literally.

I jump off the boat into the thickest patch of red oil I’ve ever seen. I open my eyes and realize my mask is already smeared. I can’t see anything and we’re just five seconds into the dive…

The oil is so thick and sticky, almost like a cake batter. It does not wipe off. You have to scrape it off, in layers until you finally get close to the skin. Then you pour on some Dawn dishwashing soap and scrub. I think to myself: No fish, no bird, no turtle would ever be able to clean this off of themselves. If any animal, any were to end up in this same puddle there is almost no way they could escape.

It’s actually a very interesting narrative, but there’s a very good reason none of his colleagues would dive without wearing Hazmat suits.

I’m all for getting to the heart of a story, but I think this is taking it way too far. Especially if you’re somewhat of a klutz, as this reporter apparently is; turns out after getting out of the water, scrubbing for half an hour to get clean, he fell back in and was slimed again. 

I sure hope he’s had all his shots.


Mount St. Helens: 30 Years Ago Today

May 17, 2010

At 8:32 a.m., a 5.1 magnitude earthquake shook open Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington, in what was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the continental United States since the early 1900s. The devastation to the landscape, the forests and the wildlife, was incalculable, and the lives of 57 people were lost that day. One man, Dave Crockett, was on site on a hunch; he documented his race against the volcano:

Note: it only took Jimmy Carter three days to declare a disaster and visit the area of devastation. Bonus points for the semi-bouffant and extremely geeky Dan Rather appearance, sitting in for Walter Cronkite on the linked video.

In an excellent recent article, USA Today delivers some interesting statistics about the event:

The devastation seemed complete. And then from the dead ashes life sprang up again. A quarter century after the blast and destruction, this is what the volcano looks like:

Life finds a way. Life always finds a way.


Week-End Fun: Let’s Play “Where’d Al Go?”

February 27, 2010


There’s a fun new game that’s sweeping the nation, in light of record freezing and snow storms. Based loosely on the children’s books, “Where’s Waldo?” this game is played by adults wanting to know what’s happened to the former Vice-President, author of the best-seller, “An Inconvenient Truth” and winner of both an Oscar and Nobel Prize. The game is called “Where’d Al Go?”

Illustration by Gerry Ashley

At the height of Al Gore’s great “Global Warming” scam, he was everywhere. Talk shows, Monday Night Football, Internet videos, radio, newspapers, magazines… He left no form of exposure unexploited. The crowds came showed up to reinforce their adulation. It was almost enough to make him forget he got beaten in the Presidential election a few short years before… 

His book and movie enthralled an American public that loves to grab onto any perceived crisis without bothering to do any fact-checking (the same people who forward e-mails with dramatic stories without bothering to check their validity). Next stop: The Hollywood Oscars. Yep, there was Al, fresh from hosting Saturday Night Live to collect his Oscar for his pseudo-documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” (which, as we now know, was actually a propaganda movie whose real title was A Bunch Of Very Convenient Lies.” 

But that wasn’t the end of it. Next thing you know, Al’s flying off to Copenhagen to pick up a Nobel prize for his erstwhile work in demonstrating how the world (but mostly the United States) was destroying the planet. 

Children cried as they watched images of helpless Polar Bears adrift on ice chunks that had once been giant glaciers (or so the kids were led to believe). 

Then came Al’s second biggest invention since the Internet: Carbon Credits! While Al figured out how to make billions by being one of the only sources for Carbon Credits, environmentalists drew up new guidelines for “the rest of us.

When Gore was criticized for having a home that uses 30 times the amount of energy of the typical American home, we were told, “Well, that’s different… he’s buying Carbon Credits to make up the difference.” What we weren’t being told is that buying carbon credits, for someone like Gore, simply meant taking money from his left pocket and simply inserted it into his right.

When he was criticized for flying around the country in his own personal Gulfstream jet (one of the least fuel efficient in the business), we were told it’s a small price to pay for spreading  the word about global warming: 

Source: Photobucket


But then, like climate change, Al’s credibility started to slide:: 

  • Former CRU director Phil Jones was accused of covering up the fact that data from Chinese weather stations was flawed. Darned if he could find the original data documentation, too… 
  • Stoutcat recently covered the other aspects of the crumbling case for Global Warming regarding Glaciergate and Amazongate in her piece you can read here.
  • And, of course, there were the e-mails exposed when hackers broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia where, as it turns out, much of the Global Warming data was uh, massaged into supporting the agenda.
  • Finally (and this just has to really suck if you’re Al Gore), his Global Warming position was endorsed by non other than Osama Bin-Laden. Read my piece on that ringing endorsement here.

Then came appearances that had to be cancelled due to blizzards which, of course, Gore supporters now tell us is all due to Global Warming (which, oddly enough, was their explanation for  the lack of snow several years ago).  

In fact, the last known photo of Al Gore, before his disappearance was as he addressed a small group outside a Circle K  in Flagstaff, Arizona: 


Source: Photobucket

After this fiasco, Al retreated and was reportedly hiding out on a private Island near Fiji.  

At some point along the way, the decision was made to re-name “Global Warming” as “Climate Change.” It was discovered that it’s  harder to define and, therefore, harder to be held accountable for the resulting scams.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter: Al Gore, one of the principal architects behind the whole “Cap and Trade” scam, stands to make billions as companies are strong-armed into buying “Carbon Credits” as a penance for their sins of using electricity. While Global Warmi… oops, sorry… “Climate Change” is being blamed for the need of Cap and Trade, there doesn’t seem to be any discussion on scaling it back or eliminating it altogether now that the science supporting it has been debunked.  Ahhh… no wonder Al is in hiding. 

But there’s more bad news for Gore: On Tuesday, the editors of Investors Business Daily wrote: 

“The godfather of climate hysteria is in hiding as another of his wild claims unravels — this one about global warming causing seas to swallow us up. We’ve not seen or heard much of the former vice president, Oscar winner and Nobel Prize recipient recently as the case for disastrous man-made climate change collapses.”  

Yet, according to Fox News, Gore spoke at the American Library Association conference at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on January `16th. While there, he signed copies of his newest book, Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis. On Feb. 22nd, he appeared at the IBM Pulse Conference in Las Vegas where he discussed how the environment was a fantastic business opportunity. According to the Fox article, Gore said: 

“We are in the presence of one of the greatest opportunities in the history of business to become much more efficient and eliminate waste, pollution and losses all at the same time,” he said. 

Ohhhhhh… Now we get it, Al. By that, I mean, now we get why you’re so selectively incommunicado.  Since he attended the Copenhagen climate summit in December, Gore has, for the most part,  been unavailable to talk to the media, making only a handful of public appearances (and those were under strictly controlled conditions). 

Finally, it’s getting harder for Gore to run, and it has nothing to do with record snow-falls. From Fox news: 

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe — a prominent skeptic of global warming theory and the Republican leader of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee — issued a request for Gore to come testify on global warming. In an interview with FoxNews.com, Inhofe said he wants Gore to appear because “it will be interesting to ask him on what science he based his movie,” a film the senator considers “science fiction.” 

Read the Fox report on-line here

Global Warming? Climate Change? Oh well, Al… you’ll always have the Internet… 

H/T Fox news 

Gerry Ashley