Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Do Not Require Utilities To Use Technology That Doesn't Work


By Norris McDonald

I support wind and solar, but they cannot reliably deliver electricity to hundreds of millions of people 24 hours a day seven days a week.  In fact, they work about 30% of the time and so have to be backed up by traditional technologies.  Thus, a Renewable Electricity Standard (aka Renewable Portfolio Standard) is just one more burden on a sector that already has its back against the wall in meeting customer needs and current regulatory requirements.  I say this even as supporting such a standard would probably benefit our current work to build an biomass-to-electricity plant in Mississippi (Green Port Gibson Project).

Billions in federal subsidies for manufacturers of solar panels and wind and solar power facilities will end January 1, 2011. These subsidies include a 30% tax credit for builders of plants that manufacture solar panels or other clean-energy components.  They will expire unless lawmakers renew these clean-energy incentives that were created by the 2009 economic stimulus legislation. Republicans are opposing extensions and Democrats are supporting extensions.  It is doubtful the Lame Duck congress will extend the subsidies and it will be an uphill climb to get new subsidies in the 112th Congress.

I support the energy subsidies for all sectors.  And I could also easily support removing supports for all energy sectors and let the market decide.  But since we live in a subsidy world, I support the subsidies for all sectors, particularly the emissions free technologies.

Wow.  The United Nations Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico is off the radar screen.  Let's hope interest picks up next year for the final Kyoto Protocol conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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