Re: Ignoring a Force of Market

The subject of Justin’s post is so off base, it has me speechless. (… though not altogether, it would appear.)
This legislation would introduce the seriously misguided concept of, as Rep John Loughlin (R) phrased it on the Matt Allen Show, paying National Grid a 3% commission on “clean” energy purchased, a commission that is to come, inexplicably, out of ratepayers’ pockets. Savings to the consumer down the road are projected but not guaranteed.

So, “the only thing we know for sure is that it is going to mean more money on that electric bill?” Loughlin asked. “In the short-term there might be a small increase,” [House Majority Leader] Fox repeated. But, “in the long-term, cost savings are indicated as well as savings to our lives in terms of greenhouse emissions and global warming …”

So in addition, the entire premise of the bill is folly. Only one piece of information – the amount of man’s contribution to greenhouse gases – is required to understand that if man is causing global warming, draconian measures would have to be implemented to reverse the effect. Such measures would require the participation of all countries, including those who have openly or effectively signalled a balk (hello, Russia and China) and would have to be on the scale of the complete sidelining of our cars and trucks PLUS one or more of the following: reduction by at least 75% of meat consumption, shut down of electricity generating plants … and, actually, that should about do it because that last item stops a lot of other “problematic” activity.
Even if this enormous sacrifice is somehow achieved, there is no guarantee that global warming would be stopped because no one has conclusively ruled out the sun as the real cause. In short, the only effect of offering an unwarranted 3% gratuity to an energy provider out of the pocket of the hapless and unwilling public is the creation of a warm, fuzzy and completely false sense that one is accomplishing something.
Further, in the ProJo article, Majority Leader Fox refers to “direction”, as though this bill were a new approach. It is actually the same ineffectual approach that Rhode Island state government has taken for decades – have everyone cough up more money. In point of fact, the number of “feasible” alternative energy sources is endless if feasibility is achieved by sticking a gun to everyone’s head and making them kick in from a (non-existent) bottomless wallet.
I have the same hearty dislike of “big oil” as everyone else. If I could put them out of business by creating that magical cheap, clean alternate energy source with a snap of my fingers, I would do so, in a heartbeat. At the same time, I have developed a reluctant, resentful defensiveness of fossil fuels as an energy source, a defensiveness spurred mainly by the brainless, dreamy, unrealistic approach that some of our elected officials have taken to this serious problem. Justin’s point about market forces is a good one. Well-intentioned elected and public officials who have obstinantly disregarded such forces in simultaneously refusing to tap our own resources, thereby driving up the cost of our primary energy source, while contemplating forced public funding of expensive alternative energy can only leave us impoverished and in the dark.
By all means, let us continue to search for that alternative energy source. But please look elsewhere for funding than our wallets, which are woefully inadequate to such a large project. And while we are searching, start drilling and building refineries. Rather than making us less oil or energy dependent, the only effect to date of refraining from these activities has been the bestowal of record profits on big oil.

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15 years ago

Instead of looking to strike a deal with Nationalgrid, maybe a better alternative would be to approach the companies like PG&E and GE that own the stations that make the power to start using renewable generating sources at their facilities and give them the tax break to invest in the infrastructure. GE makes solar and wind turbine equipment, let them put some up at the power stations they manage or supply. The cost of generating the power will still be roughly the same as fossil fuels but at least it would be less dependent on oil and gas supplies.

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