Renewables forcing consumer energy price rise in Oregon

Wind Farm west of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Addie Goss for NPR - click

Rates set to jump for Pacific Power, PGE customers in January.

Published: Friday, December 17, 2010, 9:24 PM     Updated: Friday, December 17, 2010, 9:24 PM
Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian

Come New Year’s, better strip the lights off the house and the Christmas tree ASAP.

Customers of Pacific Power will see their electric rates spike 14.5 percent in January. The increase comes in a one-two punch: an 8.4 percent general rate increase state utility regulators approved Friday, and a 6.1 percent increase for increased power costs they are expected to approve Dec. 28. Both take effect Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, customers of the state’s largest electric utility, Portland General Electric Co., will see a lesser, but still significant, rate increase of about 3.9 percent. A few mandatory cost adjustments in the works will bump that overall increase to 4.2 percent, effective Jan. 1.

The biggest factor driving the increases: renewable power.

Oregon’s public policy choices during the past few years are coming home to roost in rates, a trend that will continue and likely be exacerbated in coming years by environmental edicts dealing with global warming and haze reduction.

For the time being, state mandates requiring utilities to meet 25 percent of customer demand with renewable power by 2025 — with interim targets before then — are jump-starting utility investments in wind farms, hydroelectric projects and the transmission lines to access remote, windy areas. Those projects have a long life span and low fuel costs. But the upfront capital costs are steep, and the resource is intermittent.

The largest part of Pacific Power’s general rate case was driven by a new transmission line and the two new Wyoming wind farms it connects to the utility’s customers. The company also installed pollution controls at a coal plant in Wyoming and needs to replace cheap electricity it has been buying under long-term contracts that are expiring.

“It’s a big increase,” said Pat Egan, a spokesman for Pacific Power. “We know this is not a great time for this.”

But in the end, he said, the utility has little choice. It has been told to invest in renewables.

Full story here

oregonlive.com

h/t to WUWT reader Steve in Oregon

================================================================

It’s easy to see why Pacific Power put wind farms in Wyoming and then built transmission lines to it:

US annual available wind power density. Image: NREL.gov - click to enlarge

The downside is that wind isn’t 24/7/365, and you still need nuclear, hydro, and coal to back up wind power when the wind doesn’t blow.

I wonder how Portland General will meet their mission if they get too much reliance on wind, and not enough backup? The “reasonable price” directive seems to be out the window already:

According to their current figures filed with the SEC, hydro and wind combined makes up 29%. That sure is a lot of power uncertainty to connect to the vagaries of wind and weather.

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84 Responses to Renewables forcing consumer energy price rise in Oregon

  1. Pamela Gray says:

    Oh. You mean the wind farms along the Columbia Gorge, outside of LaGrande, and near Milten-Freewater? The ones that are standing still from ice cycles or the few that are still turning?

  2. crosspatch says:

    Wyoming should build a nuclear plant and sell that power to Oregon.

    Now think about the line losses in shipping power all the way across Idaho and all the way across Eastern Oregon to get the the population centers of Oregon. Eastern Oregon is basically desert, a lot like Nevada, and few people live there. It doesn’t make sense that they would transmit wind power from Wyoming across that great distance. That seems like an insane distance. Casper to Portland is around 1000 miles, or about 1/3 the distance across the US. The path is also very rugged with a lot of miles lost in going up and down hillsides.

    This seems like folly piled on top of stupidity.

  3. Curiousgeorge says:

    “Under my plan electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket” . So sayeth Obama. How’s that for keeping promises?

  4. Paul Coppin says:

    “But in the end, he said, the utility has little choice. It has been told to invest in renewables.”

    The $24,000 question. By who? We have the same problem here in Canada. Our current provincial government is mandating “green” energy over all else, at 25 cents per kwh paid to private contractors over multi-decade contracts, signed by the same government. Current power, derived from nuclear, coal/gas and hydroelectric is priced at 4.5-9 cents per kwh (smart meter gouging). My honda generator can produce power cheaper and more efficiently than the green alternatives.

  5. Billy Liar says:

    This story doesn’t add up. The wind power is a pathetically small 1.8% of the total retail load; and that’s capacity, not output. Chances are only about 0.4% of the retail load will be delivered with the current wind installations. Unless hydro counts as renewable, they’ll need more than a massive price hike to make that 25% by 2025, they’ll need a miracle.

  6. PaulH says:

    I notice that hydroelectric is often included under the renewables banner. But any half-decent hydroelectric power installation can operate 24/7/365. I suspect that the enviros like to include hydroelectric operation figures in their totals for unreliable wind and solar, to make it appear that the flashy wind and solar work just fine.

  7. Mike Jowsey says:

    Under ‘Operational Excellence’ the percentages for Wind are 0.1% and 1.0% which somehow adds up to 1.8%. So much for operational excellence.

  8. R. de Haan says:

    Does the phrase “scam based fraud” ring a bell because that’s exactly what it is.

  9. csanborn says:

    We are in this state of transition trying to find ways to take advantage of the sun’s energy. That seems to make sense, but to me we seem to be struggling with how to make it work without busting the economy. Personally I’ve hoped that we would use the sun’s energy to make hydrogen for fuel cell powered electric cars. For example, rather than build new power lines from new windmill farms, produce hydrogen on the spot, then if the wind does not blow the only harm is that less hydrogen is being produced for the moment; a backup generation station does not need to come on line. There is the issue that there is no infrastructure for hydrogen delivery, but if one existed, it could help solve several problems. A question is whether going to a hydrogen economy is costlier and more dangerous, or efficacious. Another is whether investors see a market in it.

  10. latitude says:

    Fine, what are we going to do with all of our people on fixed incomes? in the dead of winter?

    I thought it was the big liberal cause a few years ago.
    We were hearing about people that were having to eat cat food,
    could not afford heat or air conditioning.

    I guess we’ll just have to let them all die off, for the sake of saving the planet………

  11. Well, if I recall correctly I believe the environmental nuts have caused the shutdown of several dams and/or prevented the construction of new ones because of the fishies – any reliable form of energy generation is simply unacceptable for some reason.

    Ugh, I feel like moving to Alaska.

  12. Bill in Vigo says:

    I am beginning to wish more and more everyday that I had found that place with the little spring branch on it that I could have put a small alternator on to get off the grid. Me thinks that our government is getting the gold and we are getting the shaft. If things continue and the mandates are met the climate changing will not play as large a part as lack of resources (with the banning of the most abundant) in the death of many people. Thank the good Lord we can change governments by election here, I do think that the change is going to continue. 2 more elections in the next 4 years should about make the changes we need.

    Bill Derryberry

  13. JER0ME says:

    An Hydro doesn’t add up either. Wind and hydro not adding up? That’s about right…..

  14. tarpon says:

    Energy cannot renew itself — But the ridiculousness of man is renewed with every windmill built.

    Does anybody hear any compassionate complainants about the birds slaughtered by windmills? Have you ever walked the ground under the giant windmills? Most of the bird kills come from raptors and other large birds, as by the time they hear the blades it’s too late. The bigger birds cannot maneuver quick enough to avoid the blades whack. Out in the Altimont Pass area they drive about once a day collecting dead birds so they remain hidden. Got time, drive the roads there and see for yourself. Seems like our eco-nuts are bird’s fair weather friends — Imagine if you will, if nuclear power plant hot water discharge killed this much sea-life what the outcry and selective outrage would be. Google it up, they know, just they choose to remain silent.

    It’s truly a travesty what is happening to the great soaring birds.

  15. P Walker says:

    Crosspatch – Exactly
    Paul Coggin – I know that in Idaho , some activist groups bought enough stock in Idaho Power that they were able to force the directors to commit to a percentage of renewables ( I forget the amount ) a couple of years ago . I believe that has changed , though . IIRC , the issue came up at the annual shareholders meeting and the activists had enough votes to get it passed .

  16. François GM says:

    So, what happens if the 25% target isn’t reached by 2025 ?

  17. John F. Hultquist says:

    There are many wind farms now near Ellensburg, WA (north of the Columbia Gorge). Currently that power is sent to the west side of the Cascades. Power went out locally a year or so ago and there wasn’t a line from the towers we could see to the local power company. The work-around was to divert some wind-power eastward toward a hydro facility and then send it back on one of their lines. It is more costly than the power from the dams.

    Now about this:
    For the time being, state mandates requiring utilities to meet 25 percent of customer demand with renewable power by 2025 — with interim targets before then — are jump-starting utility investments in wind farms, hydroelectric projects and the transmission lines to access remote, windy areas.

    I have not read Oregon’s law but otherwise have heard that “Hydro” wasn’t going to qualify as new renewable power.

    PNW wind farm map: (date?)
    http://www.fwee.org/FI/windmap.jpg

  18. Mike D in AB says:

    crosspatch – it gets even better than that. The farther from the transmission site, the more induced current from the earth’s magnetic field fluctuations. There’s a reason that the old Ballard power plant is still running near Vancouver British Columbia, a large portion of the BC power grid is still provided by hydro power, and they need to adjust the waveforms of the incoming signal(s) to keep the supply “clean” and in phase. There are concerns and licencing issues around putting in a new plant, so the old (and frequently upgraded) facility has to stay in place to keep the lights on.

    If Portland wants to use a lot of “renewable” energy from far away, they’ll need to have a couple of plants close in to the city to clean up their power too. Do you think they’d rather have coal or natural gas to do this job?

  19. crosspatch says:

    “Fine, what are we going to do with all of our people on fixed incomes? in the dead of winter?”

    Why, you put them on a government program, of course! Politicians create a problem and then come to the rescue, like they always do. So now you tax the “rich” consumers of power and use that to subsidize the poor consumers. Tada! They have not only managed to mitigate that problem they created, but they have managed to “redistribute wealth” but in a way that leaves the rich poorer but doesn’t leave the poor any better off than they were before! After paying for the inflated energy cost with the subsidy, the poor don’t have any more money than they had before when the power costs were lower and they didn’t need the subsidy but the politicians have managed to extract a pound of flesh from their favorite strawman … “the rich”.

  20. Brad says:

    Hydro is very reliable and has a very different predictability from wind, they should not be put together.

    What we need is tidal power, very reliable and predictable.

  21. Eric Gisin says:

    Nuclear and coal can’t ramp up/down fast enough to back up solar and wind. Hydro and gas turbine are OK.

  22. Judd says:

    I’m not certain but I think what they’re going to do to back up the wind farms when the wind doesn’t blow is to install backup gas turbines fueled by natural gas. These are used for periods of high demand in NYC and are called ‘peaker plants’. The turbines can develop upwards of 50,000 hp. and can be brought on line quickly. However they are expensive and certainly won’t last as long as the steam turbines in a coal or nuclear plant. The consumer in this ‘renewables’ scam gets to pay for two redundant electrical sources instead of one. Moreover, despite the rate increases taxpayers probably paid subsidies to get this up and running in the first place. Oh how the DiCaprio’s of the world screw the little people.

  23. crosspatch says:

    “Nuclear and coal can’t ramp up/down fast enough to back up solar and wind. Hydro and gas turbine are OK.”

    I wasn’t suggesting that nuclear be used to back up wind/solar/hydro. I was suggesting it be used *instead* of wind/hydro/solar. And recycle the spent fuel.

  24. Phillip Bratby says:

    “The “reasonable price” directive seems to be out the window already”. Just like in the UK, where reducing fuel poverty has gone out of the window so that installed renewable capacity targets can be met.

  25. Mike D. says:

    Pacific Power is “operated” by PacificCorp, which is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holding Co.

    MEHC is a Berkshire Hathaway company. That’s Warren Buffett.

    I suggest that an ugly, public boycott of all his companies, such as GEICO Insurance, would be appropriate.

    The Global Warming Hoax has always been about ripping people off. It is founded on junk science and the boundless greed of kleptocrats and other grubby thieves. The time has come to put an end to this despicable charade.

  26. harrywr2 says:

    Pamela Gray says:
    December 19, 2010 at 11:07 am

    “Oh. You mean the wind farms along the Columbia Gorge, outside of LaGrande, and near Milten-Freewater? The ones that are standing still from ice cycles or the few that are still turning?”

    Most of windmills in Washington and Oregon belong to the NIMBY’s in California.

  27. Mkelley says:

    The renewable energy insanity is only part of the reason electricity prices are on their way up. The Sierra Club brags about their ability to lawsuit new coal plants to death: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/ Any new energy producer that does not meet the “green” criteria is virtually a non-starter because of the cost to fight environmentalists’ lawsuits and harassment. A group of electric co-ops in my state tried to build a coal-fired generation plant since we have lots of low-sulfur coal here in Montana. Bad idea. The original cost estimate was around $200 million, but, by the time all the dust had settled, the plant agreed upon was North of $800 million, and it will be gas-fired with a wind element to shut up the enviros: http://www.gpace.org/news/highwood-coal-plant-dropped-for-natural-gaswind/ The power this thing produces will of course cost the consumer more, and bills have gone way up already to pay all the lawyers. Electricity for our rural areas that used to be the cheapest around is now almost unaffordable.
    The nutty switch to high-cost electricity is now government policy: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20080309/NEWS01/803090301/Coal-fired-power-plant-projects-feel-heat-from-rising-costs-environmental-concerns

  28. Alexander K says:

    The ‘English Disease’ was once the term that defined rampant and illogical trade union activism – the new English Disease is ‘Renewable Energy’, as formulated and preached by Loony Hunes, the English minister for the environment.

  29. 1DandyTroll says:

    If burning coal creates warmth which creates movement in the air which creates wind, WTF does wind mill create, other than a global deficit, that it can actually be called “renewable”? It doesn’t renew the wind after all. The coal that goes to smelting and shaping and working the ores do though, but only once per.

  30. Doubting Thomas says:

    One could make hydrogen by electrolysis using electricity generated by wind farms, then burn it in gas turbines to make electricity when needed. But about 30% to 50% of the energy is lost in making the hydrogen, then another 40% is lost in converting it back to electricity with a gas turbine. The processes wastes about half of the wind power. There are other way to store wind energy, such as pumping water to a high reservoir then making electricity from hydro generators, but I suspect the efficiency is about the same.

    I think most wind power facilities currently being installed have gas turbines as “standby” power to be used when the wind isn’t blowing. General Electric makes both wind turbines and gas turbines. They’ll make a lot of money if current trends continue.

    Southern California already has about 20% renewable energy. I pay 25 cents (U.S. $0.25) per kWh, which is about five times more than the cost of power in Kentucky where they mostly burn coal. It’s a trivial cost for me but it’s a significant cost for a family living on $30,000 a year. I’ve noticed that poor people don’t seem to spend a lot of time worrying about global warming.

    dT

  31. TXRed says:

    Do breeder reactors count as renewable energy? (tongue only slightly in cheek)

    [ryanm: nice, lol]

  32. u.k.(us) says:

    So, the taxpayers pay on the front-end with subsidies, and on the back-end with rate increases.
    Utilities and equipment manufacturers are guaranteed a profit, at taxpayer expense,
    and even have a CYA:
    “But in the end, he said, the utility has little choice. It has been told to invest in renewables.”

    What ever happened to accountability.

  33. Ken in Beaverton, OR says:

    My electrical rate is going up 3.9% next month. We have the privilege of paying more for wind generated power if we want, though I don’t know how they can be sure only wind power gets to my house. Now I understand that all of the bird mashers (windmills) are generating power so that California gets carbon offsets to cover their irresponsible environmental laws. It is not a good time to be an Oregon taxpayer.
    Ken

  34. DWSchnare says:

    Studies on Texas and Colorado wind-driven renewables find the following:

    1. Costs rise,
    2. Smog-inducing NOx rises, and,
    3. GHGs rise.

    Seems amazing, but these are not model results, they are observations of reality, and they are easy to explain. Wind varies minute by minute, and gas (and believe it or not, sometimes coal) must be used to balance the wind generation, causing the gas and coal facilities to operate well outside their norms, using more fuel to ramp up and causing more pollution when ramping up and ramping down, as well as causing their pollution control devices to “follow” the ramping, causing higher costs and lower pollution control.

    You can expect some serious policy and legal action on all this soon. Promise.

    David.

  35. Messenger says:

    @Francois GM
    You ask what might happen when the 25% reduction in CO2 emissions is not reached by 2025. My guess is the government will fine the power companies, who will put their prices up in order to pay the fines, so the consumer will pay even more, as usual.

  36. Kev-in-UK says:

    I cannot remember if I have mentioned this on previous WUWT threads – but what bothers me about wind power, is that wind energy being ‘taken’ from the circulation systems (i.e. in big wind farms) – must logically reduce the energy available for local climate! Ergo, there may well be some local issues: – I really don’t know – perhaps stalling wind ?- causing increased rainfall; or differential convection rates/cloud formation as a result of slower speed ‘near ground’ wind? Has anyone actually looked into such effects? I am pro-green energy where possible, but not at ‘any cost’ and without proper scientific appraisal.

  37. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Mkelley on December 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Here is a possible method to shut down law suits filed by the enviros. The defendents should request the the judge determine that at least 50.1% of the members of the organization approve of the law suit being filed by its officers and legal staff.

    He should further stipulate that the officers of the organization should present to him in a timely fashion a notarized statement from each member of the organization which states that the member approves of the law suit.

    It is quite possible the vast majority of the members don’t want their dues and donations spent on these nuisance law suits. Perhaps they would like to see their money spent on improving hiking trails or purchase of land for constuction of campsites. Perhaps the bird watchers of the orgainization would want remediation of some sites for enhancement of local and migratory bird populations.

    Maybe some members would want the organization to arrange for more guided field trips and tours to exotic locations like volcanoes.

    There is so much land set aside for parks and for recreational and wilderness areas in the world that these folks could only explore a small fractions of these in a lifetime.

    Do the members realize how much money could be saved if they got rid of all the wiseguy lawyers who are running enviromental protection and shakedown rackets?

  38. Neville says:

    To the medieval nobility it was obvious that the peasants had a duty to pay compulsory tithes, in order to subsidize institutions like monasteries and cathedrals that advertised far and wide the virtue and righteousness of their divinely enlightened rulers.

    Today, instead, the money goes to windmills and light rail, etc., but the principle, the objectives and the ingrained, self-serving certainty are just the same.

  39. Would you burn more than 3 barrels of oil to find 1 barrel? Of course not.

    So, why would you support wind power with an EROEI of 0.29?

    Pay the price Oregon.

  40. Roger Sowell says:

    Perhaps this is a good place to again bring up my proposal for NEWTAP, a trans-continental water canal that would use wind-power in the Great Plains to push excess water from the Missouri River into California.

    The water would be lifted into the canals by wind-powered pumps, then flow into the headwaters of the Colorado River in New Mexico at the Continental Divide. Gravity takes over from there, as the water flows into the Colorado River. Existing hydroelectric dams create electric power from the water, thus recovering a portion of the power from the wind-turbines. The water itself is used in drought-stricken California, Arizona, and Nevada under the existing water-sharing agreement.

    http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/2009/02/wind-water-farms-and-power-generation.html

  41. Steve Oregon says:

    No, Oregon does not consider hydro renewable.

    And we’ll be greating the New Year with a 7 cent gas tax incease on Jan 1 too.

  42. Henry chance says:

    condor cuisinarts

    Whatever we do the greenie weenies will fight it. Electric in AC can’t be stored. Electric loses power over distance. I suggest sequestering greenie weenies in dark and cold dungeons until they confess light and heat are good.

  43. Bob Diaz says:

    [quote]Mkelley says:
    December 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    The renewable energy insanity is only part of the reason electricity prices are on their way up. The Sierra Club brags about their ability to lawsuit new coal plants to death: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/ Any new energy producer that does not meet the “green” criteria is virtually a non-starter because of the cost to fight environmentalists’ lawsuits and harassment. …[/quote]

    I wonder if it’s possible to have a class action lawsuit against the Sierra Club? After all, their legal attacks have resulted in increased cost for consumers.

  44. Tom in Florida says:

    I’m just glad all this nonsense is being tried out somewhere other than Florida. When the results are tabulated we will have a good record of what not to do.

  45. Douglas DC says:

    Speaking of Renewables, I was just at my local Shell Station,(this is La Grande, Or.
    a little West and a bit lower than Pamela Gray’s ranch in xxxxx Co. ) there is
    a note on the Diesel pump: “Due to the State of Oregon’s requirement for Biodiesel,we cannot guarantee that the Fuel will not freeze up below 0F despite double treatments
    in the fuel to prevent freezing.” Ok….
    Ah we got down to -3F back a couple of weeks ago.
    January and February are comin’ at us like a freight train.
    and it ain’t runnin’ on biodiesel….

  46. _Jim says:

    crosspatch says December 19, 2010 at 11:07 am:

    Wyoming should build a nuclear plant and sell that power to Oregon.

    Now think about the line losses in shipping power all the way across Idaho and …

    And just what would those line losses be?

    .

  47. _Jim says:

    Henry chance December 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    condor cuisinarts

    Whatever we do the greenie weenies will fight it. Electric in AC can’t be stored. Electric loses power over distance.

    What are they anyway? The losses that is, what are they? Considering new methods of transmitting DC, what would those be, in toto?

    .

  48. Corky Boyd says:

    OMG one of the areas with the highest wind potential is the Yellowsone Park. It’s a perfect place to start. That is after Cape Power.

  49. Roger Sowell says:

    Los Angeles (California) Department of Water and Power (DWP) is set to increase power prices 25 percent to pay for renewable power production. The Los Angeles Mayor mandated 40 percent renewables in the DWP area. This will replace coal-fired power imported from Utah.

    http://www.lapowerplan.org/

  50. pwl says:

    I’ve heard that BC Hydro is/has fraudulently jacking/jacked up energy prices in a similar manner. It has something to do with the small hydro energy producers and how much they can charge BC hydro above the retail energy prices and BC Hydro using that as an excuse to jack up the prices rather than just averaging together the vast low cost energy (which is the vast majority of the energy in BC) and smaller higher cost sources.

    It seems to be a pattern, using the very high cost of smaller “green energy” (wind, solar, geothermal, small hydro “run of the river”) projects to justify the raising of very lost cost BULK base load power (nuclear, hydro, coal, natural gas, …).

    Does anyone have more details?

  51. _Jim says:

    I give you … the Pacific DC Intertie.

    Extending 846 miles from the Pacific Northwest to the Los Angeles area.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_DC_IntertieMap

    .

  52. Judd says:

    I have one final point on this. I believe, in 1900 that average life expectancy in the US was 45 years. I don’t know what it is today but I believe it is around 75-80 years. People assume this was due to medical advances and some of it was but most of it was due to improvements in the water supply, conquering insect born deseases, and, most importantly, sanitation along with food safety. Dare I say that some of it was also due to Air Conditioning? My mother is 91 & I do not believe she would still be alive today without AC. Moreover, I have a lung desease that virtually requires AC. So, Mr. Obama, let’s have those electrical bills ‘skyrocket’. I say, ground Air Force 1.

  53. Jantar says:

    PaulH says: 11:15 am

    I notice that hydroelectric is often included under the renewables banner. But any half-decent hydroelectric power installation can operate 24/7/365. I suspect that the enviros like to include hydroelectric operation figures in their totals for unreliable wind and solar, to make it appear that the flashy wind and solar work just fine.

    Hydro electric is renewable in the sense that once built it use almost further resources to run. The fact that it can run 24/7/365 has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is renewable. Note though that it can not run 24/7/365 at full output, or else the design engineers need firing. Most Hydro plants have load factor of around 50 – 60%. This allows them the flexibility to ramp up to full load quickly and provide reserve to the rest of the system, to take advantage of seasonal flows and still maintain a high efficiency during times of low flows.

  54. harrywr2 says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    December 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    “Perhaps this is a good place to again bring up my proposal for NEWTAP”

    Nice idea, personally I think raising Lake Ontario one foot will be cheaper.
    http://rethink-technologies.com/static/Niagara_Pumped_Storage_Project_ESA_008c.pdf

  55. Jantar says:

    Doubting Thomas says:
    December 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm
    One could make hydrogen by electrolysis using electricity generated by wind farms, then burn it in gas turbines to make electricity when needed. But about 30% to 50% of the energy is lost in making the hydrogen, then another 40% is lost in converting it back to electricity with a gas turbine. The processes wastes about half of the wind power. There are other way to store wind energy, such as pumping water to a high reservoir then making electricity from hydro generators, but I suspect the efficiency is about the same.

    This is a sensible use for wind. This system is known as Pumped Storage. The pumping efficiencies are around 75 – 80% and water to wire generating efficiencies are 90 – 92%. Total loss is only 25 – 30%. I am currently involved in investigating a pumped storage scheme in New Zealand and we are looking at an overall efficiency of 74%.

  56. James Barker says:

    _Jim says:
    December 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    As near as I can tell you lose about 2% of your power for every 100 miles of transmission. But that is with very good infrastructure.

    http://www.aep.com/about/transmission/docs/EnablerforCleanEnergy.pdf

  57. u.k.(us) says:

    _Jim says:
    December 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    “And just what would those line losses be?”
    =======================
    “Nobody” cares, the taxpayers pay for it.
    It’s a win/win for all, that made/accepted political contributions.

  58. Roger Sowell says:

    Clean (i.e. renewable) energy is not cheaper than fossil-fuel-based energy. If that were the case, electric utilities would be requesting a rate decrease from the Public Utility Commission as each renewable power plant is installed. Clearly, the utilities ask instead for higher rates.

    As above, recently, the Los Angeles municipal power agency, Department of Water and Power, produced a detailed study on replacing coal-based power with wind and solar power. They concluded that a 25 percent increase in power prices is required to pay for this, or 3 cents increase out of a base rate of 12 cents per kWh. The DWP estimate of 25 percent increase is approximately double what California’s Air Resources Board’s Scoping Plan stated would be the increase in power prices when ARB stated 13 percent.

  59. Roger Sowell says:

    @harrywr2 on December 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    “Nice idea, personally I think raising Lake Ontario one foot will be cheaper.”

    Another proposal is to use the natural bays to our advantage. One proposal I have is to build a dam across the Gulf of California (Baja California) connecting Mexico with Isla Tiburon, Isla Turon, Isla San Lorenzo, and the Baja peninsula. Concentrated solar evaporation would used to remove water from the northern basin, then power could be generated as water from the Gulf of California flows through the dam, turbines, and into the northern basin. Approximately 20 miles of dam would be constructed.

    A smaller project could be built solely between Isla Tiburon and the Mexican mainland. This would require two dams, each about one mile long at the northern end and central portion of the island.

  60. AusieDan says:

    François GM – you asked on December 19, 2010 at 11:30 am
    So, what happens if the 25% target isn’t reached by 2025 ?

    The answer – that’s no problem –
    Just aim for 50% by 2050
    OR 9999% by 2222
    That will fix the denyers,
    Or are you a student of mathematics perhaps and just cannot or will not understand?

  61. AusieDan says:

    Roger Stowell,
    I think there’s on problem you haven’t considered.
    The effeciecy of the system will be less than 100%.
    Now you need more than 100% percent effeciency to get anything out of the system.
    Otherewise you would be better off just using the sun power to generate electricity directly or even to just heat water for domestic or industrial use.

    Or better still, forget all this madness and just use the most efficient, cheapest source of power available.

  62. AusieDan says:

    By now it has become quite clear that there is no compelling scientific arguement that human emissions of CO2 effect the climate in any noticable manner.

    The arguemnt is now a purely politican one.
    The issue is how to galvanise the growing number of private sceptics,
    so that the MSM begins to take notice,
    Which will presure the politicans and then even the beaurocrats to take notice.

    The politicans are our leaders.
    They need to be given a lead from the people.
    Otherwise how on earth can they be expected to know where to lead us?
    At present, they are leading us right over the cliff.

  63. Northern Exposure says:

    Where I live, 100% of our energy comes from hydroelectricity and it’s cheap cheap cheap.

    We sell the excess surplus energy to various areas in the Canadian provinces on either side of us and to a couple of the states south of border in the USA. Currently, our province has 2 or 3 new multi-million dollar hydro projects in the works… not because our province needs more power (as I said we have a surplus of it), but because other provinces and US states are wanting to buy it.

    Our hydro power is a hot commodity here.

  64. Colonial says:

    @Ken in Beaverton, OR (December 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm) said, “My electrical rate is going up 3.9% next month. … It is not a good time to be an Oregon taxpayer.”

    It is, however, a good time to jump on the green bandwagon. My 9.6 KW photovoltaic system just went on line in Aloha (a few miles west of Beaverton). Annually, it will generate about 2/3 of our total usage.

    I’ll be paid 58.5 cents/KWH generated (whether it goes out through the meter to power other households or we use it at home) for the next 15 years. All the power I use costs me the going rate, which at the moment is about 10 cents/KWH (that will go to about 10.4 cents/KWH on January 1st — I’m in PGE’s territory). Payback is expected to be about 7 years, after which I’ll benefit from 8 years of societally-approved windfall profits.

    Why do it, when without the subsidies it would be an economic joke? Because it’s a hedge against the kind of idiotic power rates that one of Anthony’s postings showed — about 40 cents/KWH after a few hundred KWH/month at more reasonable rates. My wife and I will retire soon, and don’t want to be forced to choose between keeping the lights on or eating.

    Isn’t socialism wonderful? If I were to steal a penny a month from the bank accounts of 40,000 of my nearest neighbors, I would be sent to prison. Yet when the mechanisms of the state are co-opted to do the same thing, I and the others that jump on the bandwagon are cultural heroes. Oh, and I get to look down my nose at you, because I’m Greener Than Thou.

  65. Roger Sowell says:

    @AusieDan December 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    “I think there’s on problem you haven’t considered.
    The effeciecy of the system will be less than 100%.”

    With reference to the Baja California hydroelectric system, the efficiency of the system will be very close to 100 percent. Hydroelectric turbines can be operated at more than 90 percent efficiency. There is no energy required to lift water, because the water in the Gulf of California will flow through the dam into the lower level of the reservoir between the two dams. There will be no loss in efficiency from the solar energy that is used to evaporate the water between the dams. In fact, something as simple as Fresnel lenses could be used to focus the sun’s rays and evaporate the surface water more quickly. The evaporated water would presumably be carried by the wind over the Mexican desert where it might or might not rain and run back into the Gulf of California. The best part about this system is that power production can be scheduled and dispatched as needed, without any regard to sunny or cloudy days, even at night.

    As to the NEWTAP system, there will certainly be some loss in efficiency. Wind turbines to power, and power to pumps, and pumps’ inefficiency at lifting water, all will contribute losses. However, the hydroelectric systems at Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam will recover approximately 90 percent of the energy. The big benefit is having fresh water flowing into the desert Southwest.

  66. Pamela Gray says:

    Without plain old winter diesel, I can’t snowplow my mailbox area, which means my mail won’t be delivered. Without winter diesel, many farmers and ranchers won’t be able to work on their equipment, feed their stock, or break through ice to get to water. We need the good stuff. Plus our taxes are going up. What the hell!!! This is all not going to end well I’m afraid.

  67. jmrSudbury says:

    Canada’s province of Ontario is also getting rate hikes due to subsidies to renewable energy like solar panels.

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/12/17/lawrence-solomon-ontario’s-odious-obligations/

    John M Reynolds

  68. 1DandyTroll says:

    @jmrSudbury

    ‘Canada’s province of Ontario is also getting rate hikes due to subsidies to renewable energy like solar panels.’

    But that makes sense, what with Canada being ever so famous for its 365 days of sun above them clouds.

  69. WillR says:

    Click on my name to see Ontario’s foray into wind energy. It’s expensive and unreliable.

    A summary with sources here.

    http://ontariowindperformance.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/chapter-3-1-powering-ontario/

    See Powering Ontario.

    Wind Turbines are a colossal waste of money that will see our power bills triple to what they were say five years ago — this will happen shortly — probably with a year to two years.

  70. Pamela Gray says:

    Pendleton, situated in a bowl, initiated a policy a few years back that outlawed wood burning for heat unless it was the primary source of heat. If this weather keeps up, jobs continue to slide, and heating bills keep going up, wonder how long the citizens will tolerate this green policy.

  71. Sal Minella says:

    “The downside is that wind isn’t 24/7/365, and you still need nuclear, hydro, and coal to back up wind power when the wind doesn’t blow.”

    In fact, you will still need backup when the wind is blowing. Because intermittencies in an intermittent system cannot be predicted and there is a significant time lag in spinning up and synching “backup” power that power must be up and spinning even when the wind is blowing. Where is the advantage in funding these expensive boondoggles?

  72. Pamela Gray says:

    And, I wonder how long the federal government can keep local citizens out of forests ill-managed by said federal government. We are surrounded by forests filled up to the hoo ha with fallen timber. But we can’t go in there and pick it up to heat our homes. If the current administration really cared about these things, they would PAY us to go in and pick up dead and dying trees for heating fuel. And would provide mass-produced cheap stoves with chimney liners equipped to filter out/double burn, carbon gas before it heads up the chimney to those federal forest cleaning folks to sell to their wood burning customers. But no, no, no. The administration can’t do anything with common sense. Idiots. Every one of them.

  73. beaminup says:

    Those da** wind farms are an eyesore and a danger to all kinds of birds. I can’t wait till this fad goes by the wayside.

  74. Richard Wakefield says:

    15% increase? They are lucky. Here in Ontario Canada, the Green Energy Act, which pays wind and solar producers a premium, we have seen our bills DOUBLE in 7 years, and a projected DOUBLE again in as many years. Unless the Liberals here are tossed out next Oct, which they will, and the Conservatives will put an end to this nonsense.

  75. tarpon says:

    Can you imagine how much it’s going to cost to remove all the bird Cuisinarts and solar panels once it’s proved that it was all a big waste of your money? The blight, the destruction of the pristine scenery, as the eco-nuts once called it, now silent, is horrific.

    Can you imagine, Gov Crist was even talking about solar panels in Florida. Hurricane proof solar panels, instead of hurricane proof windmills, another waste of taxpayers money.

  76. robertvdl says:

    SPAIN

    Following an auction of wholesale electricity supply, combined with “technical adjustments” to the wholesale price, the cost of domestic electricity is expected to rocket in price by up to 10% in January 2011, compared to October of 2010.

    The January revision is the first of the new year. During 2010, the retail cost suffered two increases, one in January of 2.6% and one in October of 4.8%.

    http://www.theleader.info/article/26359/spain/costa-blanca/shocking-electricity-price-hike/

  77. robertvdl says:


    Massively subsidizing wind, solar, and other expensive types of electricity production
    The Problem with Spain’s Green Jobs Model

    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/30316

  78. Dave Worley says:

    With a number of States facing bankruptcy, the progressive buzzword “unsustainable” may come back to haunt them.
    It’s now in my everyday vocabulary for use in any discussion with “progressives”.
    Pass it on.

  79. FerdinandAkin says:

    François GM says:
    December 19, 2010 at 11:30 am
    So, what happens if the 25% target isn’t reached by 2025 ?

    Francois, is the answer not obvious? Prices will continue to rise until consumer demand is reduced to the point that energy supplied by renewables equals the magic 25%.

  80. mkelly says:

    Mkelley says:
    December 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Nice name. Strange spelling.

  81. George E. Smith says:

    “”””” Roger Sowell says:
    December 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm
    @harrywr2 on December 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    “Nice idea, personally I think raising Lake Ontario one foot will be cheaper.”

    Another proposal is to use the natural bays to our advantage. One proposal I have is to build a dam across the Gulf of California (Baja California) connecting Mexico with Isla Tiburon, Isla Turon, Isla San Lorenzo, and the Baja peninsula. “””””

    Best to stay with your day job Roger.

    Do you have any idea what the total economic productivity of the Sea of Cortez, and it’s commmunities is ?

    There’s not a high enough electricity rate that people would pay, that would justify destroying one of the great salt water habitats on this planet.

    Why not simply build two dams going from the northern and southern tips of Catalina Island, over to the shorelines of LA and I’d connect from about the Santa Monica pier down to San Jan Capistrano; and then collect the tidal energy inside that vast useless region. Well it might be inconvenient for the beautiful people of Newport Beach and the like; and mess with their boating; but they can afford to move to other nice places like Bahrain.

  82. Richard Patton says:

    I’m just glad I switched to Natural Gas a few years ago. The gas company is going to give us a price decrease this winter of nearly 4%. It’s just too bad that natural gas powers only my hot water and heating while my electric remains about the same year around. The savings I get from the natural gas won’t offset the increases from the electric company.

  83. Chris Thorne says:

    Oregonians had a nuclear power plant right there in Portland for about 20 years, steadily cranking out baseload electric power. The state’s hysterical ecoholics viscerally hated the thing and tried repeatedly to have it shut down in a series of popular referenda, all of which were rejected by the voters.

    The owners of the plant finally agreed to an early decommissioning during the low prices and energy glut of the early 1990s. Keeping the plant in operation didn’t look as though it was an economically sensible idea at the time.

    I suspect that many residents of Oregon are going to be recalling that plant very wistfully once their energy bills for “green, renewable” electricity from wind start to steadily eat up more and more of their monthly paychecks.

    To say nothing of when they have the experience — already encountered several times in Europe — of having those very costly wind turbines lie completely becalmed and useless during periods of intense winter cold.

    Too late! That reactor is gone for good.

  84. Yooper Logic says:

    Hydro does count toward satisfying Oregan’s “Renewable Portfolio Standard”; here is the link:
    http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfmIncentive_Code=OR22R&re=1&ee=1

    All other points are valid to some extent and the price of energy will continue to rise; the low price of natural gas coupled with falling demand due to the depressed economy have “buffered” the impact of these increases, but the the time will come demand starts to grow and prices will increase across the board, not only for “energy” but for goods and services requiring energy.

    Hopefully, the new emphasis on “energy efficiency” will help balance the load and offset some of these impacts… hopefully.

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