When hubby and I pay our electric bill here in Tulsa, we have a little box we can check to donate money for those unable to bear the cost of their own electricity. I don’t know how successful that program is, but I do know that during summer months we hear daily of the many suffering without air conditioning – some of them dying each year. During the winter months we hear of the misery of the poor that are cold and unable to afford proper heat wherever they live – some of them dying each year. While Tulsan’s are generous, I doubt that donations take care of everyone needing financial assistance to stay healthily cool in summer, and warm in winter. Things are about to get much worse for those already suffering, and some that are not suffering now, will be before the EPA is finished with us. We are told that the EPA will save lives with their new rules – 36,000 lives to be exact. Never mind that most of us are living longer, and the average lifespan increases every year, in spite of fossil fuels.
Ask about anyone, anywhere and you will hear that electricity is terribly expensive, and it is about to be less readily available. EPA regulations (not laws) will close many coal-fired plants that generate our Nation’s electricity. Those not closing will spend billions to upgrade to meet the EPA restrictions. Obama told us in 2008 that under his guidance our electricity will skyrocket, and that pronouncement is about to come true.
In 2009, 44.9% of America’s electricity was generated by coal. The next closest is 23.4% from natural gas. The Washington Post reports that the new EPA regulations will force the “closure of many coal plants” between now and 2017. No one seems to know how many, but American Electric Power has announced the shutdown of 5 of their plants. Improvements to those plants would cost $8 Billion – better to shut them down. The remainder will undergo (or are undergoing) upgrades which you and I will pay for, thanks to the Obama administration bypassing Congress.
This Washington Post article explains what all this means: “higher electric bills, more blackouts and fewer jobs.”
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) gives us the good news: the new regulations will save 36,000 lives: preventing 21,000 cases of bronchitis and 23,000 death from heart attacks. ‘We the people’ will have a whopping $290 Billion to spend, because that $290 Billion will not be needed to treat the sick. Does anyone believe that?
In the U.S., 500,000 die from heart attacks each year – 23,000 of them from pollution if we believe the EPA. The average U.S. lifespan for a woman is 81 and a male 76. The overall average is 78 years. At the turn of the century, the average life span in the U.S. was 49 years. Since then, we have come close to doubling our lives while creating automobiles, drilling for oil and gas, mining for coal, and opening and operating coal-fired plants. We also procreate and breathe. For the last one hundred years, America’s life expectancy has risen.
I want clean air and water as much as the next person, but I would appreciate some data not driven by government grants and subsidies. As with everything to do with the environment, it is about the money – funding for the programs, and big money for the investors.
Solar is expensive, only 40% efficient so many costly panels are required, and they are high-maintenance. The amount of sunlight reaching 1 sq. foot is actually quite small – about 300 watts if the sun is good. A 2,000 square foot home needs about 200 watts of collector space.
Electricity costs in the United States average 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. A currently advertised inexpensive 3 kilowatt (peak) solar system bought in California, after a hefty state rebate and tax incentive, will cost $6,552. Running at an average of 30% of peak capacity (no sun at night, cloudiness, etc.), this system will take ten years before it costs less than buying all electricity from utilities. Source
Wind Power seems a good option but has some major problems, as billionaire T. Boone Pickens found. He had big plans for wind farms, dropped a bundle, and then had a difficult time finding the right place to put them. Texas didn’t want them, so they are now in Canada. Pickens’ story is that wind power is less important now that natural gas prices have dropped. If you live in Oklahoma, where T. Boone is a hero of Oklahoma State University fame, you know there’s more to that story.
When winds are high, windmills have to be shutdown to avoid damage. The build-up of bugs meeting their end on the blades is a serious problem. It’s estimated that graveyard results in a 25% drop in average power generated. Salt build-up – the same.
The Danish government is still the pioneering father of wind power, but they have had their problems, like when all the turbines had to be moved ashore for repair. And the fact that wind power never replaces fossile fuel power. Government subsidies eventually come to an end, and in 2010, according to The Telegraph, the state-owned power company, Dong Energy, announced that it would abandon future onshore wind farms in the country,” because the people hate it!
In an analysis issued here this week, Deloitte said the return investment in the wind power industry [in Denmark] has fallen as well, with the profit percentage on the logistics part of supplying wind power decreasing from 21.8 percent in 2008 to 5 percent last year.
“The year 2009 has been a very hard one for the suppliers of the wind farm industry,” said Peter Roende Jakobsen, assistant director of Deloitte…Source
More from The Telegraph:
Unfortunately, Danish electricity bills have been almost as dramatically affected as the Danish landscape. Thanks in part to the windfarm subsidies, Danes pay some of Europe’s highest energy tariffs – on average, more than twice those in Britain. Under public pressure, Denmark’s ruling Left Party is curbing the handouts to the wind industry.
“Since 2005 alone, 5.1 billion kroner [£621 million] has been paid to the wind turbine owners. That cost has been borne by businesses and private consumers,” says the party’s environment spokesman, Lars Christian Lilleholt. “It seems to have become a political fashion to say that there should be more support for wind. But we have to look at other renewables. We cannot go on with wind power only.”
The subsidy cuts are almost certainly the main reason behind Dong’s move out of onshore wind. But public anger is real enough, too. Until recently, there was relatively little opposition to the windmills. But now a threshold appears to have been crossed. Earlier this year, a new national anti-wind body, Neighbours of Large Wind Turbines, was created. More than 40 civic groups have become members.
“People are fed up with having their property devalued and sleep ruined by noise from large wind turbines,” says the association’s president, Boye Jensen Odsherred. “We receive constant calls from civic groups that want to join.”
A German study showed that increasing wind power would increase consumer costs 3.7 times more, listen to this:
…the theoretical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved much more cheaply by simply installing filters on existing fossil-fuel plants.
An Irish study:
The cost of CO2 abatement arising from using large levels of wind energy penetration appears high relative to other alternatives.
In 2010 new restriction that will “jeopardise more than a quarter of the country’s planned windfarm projects.”
In the U.K.:
In the U.K., the Telegraph has reported that rather than providing cheaper energy, wind power costs the electric companies £50 per megawatt-hour, compared to £15 for conventional power. The wind industry is worried that the U.K., too, is starting to see that it is only subsidies and requirements on utilities to buy a certain amount of “green” power that prop up the wind towers and that it is a colossal waste of resources.
In the U.S.:
The DOE says there are 18,000 square miles of good wind sites in the U.S., which with current technology could produce 20% of the country’s electricity. This rosy plan, based on the wind industry’s sales brochures, as well as on a claim of electricity use that is only three-quarters of the actual use in 2002, would require “only” 142,060 1.5-MW towers. They also explain, “If the wind resource is well matched to peak loads, wind energy can effectively contribute to system capacity.” That’s a big if — counting on the wind to blow exactly when demand rises — especially if you expect the wind to cover 20% (or even 5%) of that demand. As in Denmark and Germany, you would quickly learn that the prudent thing to do is to look elsewhere first in meeting the load demand. And we’d be stuck with a lot of generally unhelpful hardware covering every windy spot in the U.S., while the developers would be looking to put up yet more to make up for and deny their failings.
Especially vulnerable are large birds of prey that like to fly in the same sorts of places that developers like to construct wind towers. Fog — a common situation on mountain ridges — aggravates the problem for all birds. Guidelines from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) state that wind towers should not be near wetlands or other known bird or bat concentration areas or in areas with a high incidence of fog or low cloud ceilings, especially during spring and fall migrations. It is illegal in the U.S. to kill migratory birds. The FWS has prevented any expansion of the several Altamont Pass wind plants in California, rejecting as well the claim that new solid towers would mitigate the problem.
Did you know that “noise” is the second biggest environmental health risk after pollution? Known as death by decibel, who knew? Wind turbines are noisy – think about it, the miserable hum of clean energy.
Hydroelectric energy has to be combined with solar or wind to work, and it needs large sources of water.
When I look for the causes of death by air pollution, the words “fine particles” pops up every time. In the study of triggers of asthma, fine particles play a roll, and some of those triggers are “dust, soot, fly ash, diesel exhaust particles, wood smoke and sulfate aerosols. Bronchitis can be made worse by fine particles, ranging from forest fires and land clearing, cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, and the list goes on and on, as it does for asthma. I know from my own experience that the “fine particles” from cedar trees can make me miserable for days, and I am not asthmatic.
So the question is, do death certificates ever read “Cause of death: diesel fumes?” Next question: why are we pushing these sources that are not yet fully-developed to do the job in an equal manner with the fossil fuels we already have and, that have served us well for our lifetime and the lifetimes of our parents?
The fact is, some of us many be dying from pollution (try looking for hard evidence and you won’t find it) but Americans are living longer each year.
I am asserting here that the drive to kill fossil fuels before their time is simply because many are getting rich from their efforts, and most are leaving a larger carbon footprint daily than I and my little family will leave in my entire lifetime. There’s another motive, too – power, world power. Control water and air and you are King of the world. The United Nations wants to be King of the World.