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Mental gridlock

24 Apr 2024 | News Roundup

Oh, you noticed it, did you? The Washington Post (h/t Climate Depot) recently wrote that “Amid explosive demand, America is running out of power/ AI and the boom in clean-tech manufacturing are pushing America’s power grid to the brink. Utilities can’t keep up.” It’s an all-hands-on-deck climate crisis, a real one this time, caused by climate policy not climate change. Naturally, being alarmist, the Post confuses an abstraction with reality and vice versa, whining that “It also threatens to stifle the transition to cleaner energy” whereas the whole problem is that there is no “transition to cleaner energy” and the pretense that there is threatens to stifle our once-reliable electricity supply. Remind us what the Post slogan was about something dying in darkness?

The Post recognizes that the problem is widespread. In a veritable “Wabash Cannonball” tour of energy poverty in the richest nation the world has ever seen, from the east coast to the southwest:

“In Georgia, demand for industrial power is surging to record highs, with the projection of new electricity use for the next decade now 17 times what it was only recently. Arizona Public Service, the largest utility in that state, is also struggling to keep up, projecting it will be out of transmission capacity before the end of the decade absent major upgrades. Northern Virginia needs the equivalent of several large nuclear power plants to serve all the new data centers planned and under construction. Texas, where electricity shortages are already routine on hot summer days, faces the same dilemma.”

Yes, that would be oil-rich Texas and coal-rich Virginia.

We have complained of the abstraction issue a number of times recently, including people claiming something called “climate change” is making the weather different instead of grasping that the weather becoming different, for better, worse or just variety, isn’t the result of or a contributing factor to this cosmic “climate change”, it is the climate changing. And now we read in the Post, from a “business reporter covering the energy transition” so there has to be one or he has no job, and armed with “Bates College, B.A. in Rhetoric; Columbia University, M.S. in Journalism” so he spent five years not studying economics, science or energy before breaking into full pontificate, that:

“The situation is sparking battles across the nation over who will pay for new power supplies, with regulators worrying that residential ratepayers could be stuck with the bill for costly upgrades.”

The regulators might be worrying. But probably not as much as the ratepayers, who know full well they will pay the costs either in their capacity as ratepayers or taxpayers. However the real issue isn’t just who will pay for these fictitious “new power supplies” that are part of the “green energy transition”.

It’s who will pay for their failure to come into existence in anything like the required amounts, or for the failure of the ones that do come into existence to work when needed. And while the rich may pay financially and get power somehow (the article grouses that “The soaring demand is touching off a scramble to try to squeeze more juice out of an aging power grid while pushing commercial customers to go to extraordinary lengths to lock down energy sources, such as building their own power plants”) ordinary people will “pay” by not having power at all.

Unless of course people come to their senses. And indeed another even more recent piece also in the Washington Post whimpered that West Virginia in particular was turning back toward coal, tacitly abandoning any Net Zero pretentions in favour of having the economy and the light switches work.

As for the original article, author Evan Halper concedes that:

“Bottlenecks are mounting, leaving both new generators of energy, particularly clean energy, and large consumers facing growing wait times for hookups.”

But he just can’t face the fact that the growing wait times for hookups are because there’s nothing to hook up to.

What a mess. For decades we’ve been told the science, and the policy, are a slam-dunk. And now suddenly there’s no ball and no hoop:

“‘When you look at the numbers, it is staggering,’ said Jason Shaw, chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates electricity. ‘It makes you scratch your head and wonder how we ended up in this situation. How were the projections that far off? This has created a challenge like we have never seen before.’”

Good heavens. Were the experts who say, and the journalists who interviewed them, all completely out to lunch, and in the thrall of computer models that were mathy make-believe? For that matter, what is “this” that Shaw refers to that created such a challenge? Bad assumptions? Bad policy? Bad economics? Bad everything? Being off by a factor of 17 in your core area of expertise, or perhaps merely responsibility, sounds pretty bad.

The article laments that:

“It is all happening at the same time the energy transition is steering large numbers of Americans to rely on the power grid to fuel vehicles, heat pumps, induction stoves and all manner of other household appliances that previously ran on fossil fuels.”

There’s that “energy transition” again, steering people around. Or could it be a suite of specific, ill-advised government policies that are destroying reliable energy sources in favour of stuff that doesn’t work?

The article points the finger partly at the energy demands of AI, saying:

“The nation’s 2,700 data centers sapped more than 4 percent of the country’s total electricity in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency. Its projections show that by 2026, they will consume 6 percent.”

Sapped? How about “used” as part of a cutting-edge trendy industry? (One that scares some of us silly, but one panic at a time.) Or is using energy an offence against society given its abundance in the transition?

Then the piece warns that:

“Data center operators are clamoring to hook up to regional electricity grids at the same time the Biden administration’s industrial policy is luring companies to build factories in the United States at a pace not seen in decades. That includes manufacturers of ‘clean tech,’ such as solar panels and electric car batteries, which are being enticed by lucrative federal incentives.”

So what you’re saying is that we’re burning out the parts of the energy system we haven’t yet destroyed with our green dreams to fuel more green dreams?

No, they’re saying the energy transition made us do it. Blast that yeti.

10 comments on “Mental gridlock”

  1. We need a Cass Report for Net Zero. One that really, really looks at the whole turd that it 'climate change'. And looks honestly at who's making coin.

  2. I remember the Arab oil embargo when we waited in long lines just to get 5 gallons of gas EV’s will be running out of juice on the side of the road we cannot expand our electric grid fast enough to make the magic transition to EV’s as demanded by our government.
    Nuclear power appears to be the only green option for the foreseeable future, solar takes vast tracts of land, wind mills are bird choppers, noisy and ugly, …

  3. These regulators and commissions are bad at their jobs, if the most important responsibility they have is ensuring energy capacity for current and future needs, and not just being political sycophants. It's simple to see the most conservative degree of crisis we're being walked towards. For Ontario, for example, the last year that numbers have been published - 2019, reflecting 2018 data, (https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/energy-markets/provincial-territorial-energy-profiles/provincial-territorial-energy-profiles-ontario.html) shows that of all end-use energy by source, fossil fuels provided 76% and electricty only 16%. So replacing fossil fuels means, at minimum 4.75 times more electricity production and transmission, without accounting for any growth (i.e. economic growth) in whatever timeframe Net Zero is pursued. That's absolute fantasy. Anyone who says that energy conservation and efficiency will help close the gap is clearly ready to believe such a fantasy, and they just need to step aside and let serious people deal with serious issues.

  4. If places like West Virginia are turning back to coal,they will soon be followed by others.Because the alternative is for those places to look more like
    Haiti or Somalia than modern America.So many canaries in so many coal mines(no pun intended),with regards to this so-called energy transition.
    Alex Epstein's latest newsletter highlights this so well.And Biden and co. keep pushing ahead with their IRA mandates,which almost guarantees chronic
    power blackouts and energy poverty everywhere.

  5. One of the problems we have, quite possibly the fundamental problem, is that public policies are set by people who deal solely in theoretical models and rarely if ever get out to talk to real people about real problems.
    One of the most effective politicians I ever knew (actually my local city councillor) spent as much time as possible just talking to people. Incredibly for a politician he actually liked listening to people, and would often go door knocking outside of election times to talk to people at random and find out what they thought. He's now retired. We miss him.

  6. "wind mills are bird choppers, noisy and ugly,"
    I have an Aunt and Uncle who lived (both are gone to their rewards now) a couple of miles from a wind turbine installation. This was back before my hearing loss ranged from severe to profound. Anyhow we spent a couple of nights with them. It actually was hard to get to sleep due to the ever present noise from those blasted wind turbines. TWO MILES AWAY! You didn't notice it so much during the daytime but at night - holy cow but those things are noisy!

  7. The transition to clean renewable energy will increase employment and lead to cheaper power. "When"
    More like putting us back into cave dwelling.

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