The Hill: Forcing Renewable Operators to Pay for Network Upgrades is Impeding the Green Energy Revolution

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to The Hill and industry advocates, its deeply unfair that the government is unfairly trying to force renewable energy providers to pay the full cost of power line upgrades required to bring cheaper electricity to American homes. The government is also cruelly forcing green entrepreneurs to submit to lengthy planning processes.

Regulatory overhaul is key to the clean energy transition

BY DEVIN HARTMAN, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR —  08/20/21 01:30 PM EDT 28THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

As Congress contemplates clean energy subsidies and standards, we should first ask why clean energy deployment can’t already keep up with burgeoning demand. The answer is simple to identify but difficult to remedy: archaic regulation. Regulatory solutions aren’t as sexy as grandiose public spending, but for those motivated by results over optics, it’s time to redefine clean energy leadership. 

The infrastructure deal relies on a controversial budgetary approach to clean energy, but America needs unified regulatory reform. The deal, as it currently stands, includes a one-time injection of $73 billion for clean energy and electric transmission. To put this in perspective, utilities spent over a quarter trillion on transmission alone over the past decade. The problem isn’t the private sector’s unwillingness to spend, but a regulatory structure that deters private investment and insulates incumbent utilities from competition. For example, Congress should be asking why transmission regulation is a “protection racket” that rewards utilities for spending excessively while deterring innovative, low-cost alternatives that would save consumers billions and accelerate decarbonization

For starters, a slew of regulatory flaws in electricity market rules and governance insulate incumbent power plants from clean, competitive new entrants. A report by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid outlines the imperative of overhauling grid regulation, noting that the current system is “causing a massive backlog and delay in the construction of new power projects.” New projects backlogged in the grid interconnection process already equal 77 percent of the total capacity of all existing power plants. 

Today’s regulatory state is the antithesis of the Wall Street refrain on sustainable finance: “speed to market.” Forcing taxpayers and consumers to pay for what the private sector wants to finance but can’t build is impractical and unjust. Aside from research and development assistance, clean energy leadership must divorce itself from spending others’ money. Congressional efforts should instead prioritize unleashing the might of the strongest economic force in history: American free enterprise.  

Read more: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/568722-regulatory-overhaul-is-the-key-to-the-clean-energy-transition

If you read The Hill article and were left with a weird disjointed feeling that the author never actually explained their problem, you are not alone. But delving into one of the referenced reports, by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, we finally see them spell out their grief.

Disconnected – The Need for a New Generator Interconnection Policy

I. Executive Summary

… (page 5)

Although FERC and the RTOs have undertaken worthwhile reforms to alleviate interconnection backlogs, the interconnection queues are costly, lengthy, and unpredictable. Power project developers are uncertain if their project will be approved and this risk significantly increases the cost of capital for generation developers, which increases the cost of energy for customers.

The current process also places nearly all costs of network upgrades on the energy project developer, even though many others will benefit from the construction of the project. Until a few years ago, these interconnection charges for new renewable resources would comprise under 10 percent of the total project cost for most projects. In recent years – due to the lack of sufficient large-scale transmission build – these costs have dramatically risen and interconnection charges now can comprise as much as 50 to 100 percent of the generation project costs. The system has reached a breaking point recently as spare transmission has been used up. Presently in most regions, new network capacity is needed for almost all of the projects in the queues.

Participant funding for new grid connections is no longer a “just and reasonable” policy and violates FERC’s “beneficiary pays” principle and the Federal Power Act. Relying on the interconnection process to identify needed transmission leads to a piecemeal approach and inefficiently small upgrades, raising costs to consumers. The incremental reforms at the RTO-level over the past decade have only served to treat symptoms of this fundamental issue – the lack of alignment between regional planning processes and the interconnection process.

… (page 20)

The failure of the current system under the new resource mix, including excessive costs and risk, an inability to build needed transmission, and generators paying for large network upgrades that primarily benefit customers suggest that participant funding may no longer be a just and reasonable policy. Participant funding of network upgrades not only imposes costs on interconnection customers that are often exorbitant and rising, but is also not the solution to the inability to build large-scale transmission.

One policy solution would be to end participant funding for new generation. It is clear that major network upgrades resulting from generation interconnection requests provide economic and reliability benefits to loads and reduce congestion to improve grid efficiencies and operational flexibility, and therefore should not be direct assigned as a result of participant funding. The Commission can and should change this policy within the scope of interconnection policy.

Read more: https://cleanenergygrid.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Disconnected-The-Need-for-a-New-Generator-Interconnection-Policy-1.14.21.pdf

Renewable energy entrepreneurs don’t want to pay the full cost of power transmission network upgrades required to bring their product to market, they want to force coal, gas and nuclear plant operators to share some of the cost burden.

Renewable entrepreneurs argue that the network upgrades they are demanding would improve the overall electricity network resilience. There may be a grain of truth in this, but I suggest the vast bulk of the network upgrades renewables entrepreneurs are demanding, like running high capacity transmission networks into the middle of whatever remote wasteland or mountain top hosts their new wind and solar arrays, would likely only be economically useful to the renewable entrepreneurs themselves.

If renewable operators get their way, by forcing every provider to help pay for the upgrades they alone want, in my opinion this would trap ordinary people into paying more for electricity. If renewable energy entrepreneurs alone have to pay the full economic cost of their product, they still have to compete against the existing prices of coal, gas and nuclear electricity plant operators. But if everyone has to pay a share, there is no escape for ordinary people from higher costs. Every provider would have to jack up their electricity prices to end users, to pay for their share of the cost of electricity network upgrades most of them do not want and do not need.

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Rich Davis
August 21, 2021 6:04 pm

Oh the irony of eco-fascists championing less regulation!

davidmhoffer
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 21, 2021 8:26 pm

Why would both industries collapse? That doesn’t make any sense.

MarkW
Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 21, 2021 8:33 pm

You’re asking Ingraham to make sense?

Greg
Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 22, 2021 2:47 am

Can’t you just accept that some people regard mathematics and logical argument as a social construct which perpetrates the systemic racism of the white patriarchy and refuse to have anything to with it?

You need to have more respect for their right to be ignorant and illogical.

davidmhoffer
Reply to  Greg
August 22, 2021 10:41 am

Well I am reading his reply to my question which reverses his original premise and you are right, there’s little point arguing with someone who cannot even keep his train of thought consistent from one reply to the next.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Greg
August 22, 2021 11:44 am

Greg, thanks I’ll be stealing your spot on comment. Perfect.

MarkW
Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 22, 2021 1:46 pm

Actually they don’t. Regulations require utilities to buy from renewables. There is no money going the other way.

MarkW
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 21, 2021 8:32 pm

Less regulation, but only for them. They want the regulations on everyone else to remain, or grow bigger.

As usual, the socialists feel they should be above the laws that everyone else has to follow.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 21, 2021 11:15 pm

I am OK with intermittent unreliable and expensive power generation to die. The faster the better.

Greg
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 22, 2021 3:02 am

I think China will construct wind turbines to cover Afghanistan with lots of locally produced lithium batteries and will lay cable along the Wakhan Corridor to feed into the chinese grid system.

Western countries will willingly pay for this via the Green Slush Fund to offset “carbon” emissions necessary for REAL life to continue.

Last edited 5 months ago by Greg
Sommer
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 23, 2021 10:14 am

In Ontario, if contracts aren’t cancelled, the largest wind turbine project, has to be endured for another 15 years!
No wonder the Auditor General was harshly critical of the Liberal government for their lack of a cost/benefit analysis.

OweninGA
August 21, 2021 6:08 pm

So they call it “cheap” energy, but they want other people to pay for their infrastructure. Many things can be “cheap” if someone else pays for it. These people have no concept of total lifecycle cost.

Greg
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 22, 2021 2:53 am

My neighbour is convinced wind power is cheaper than coal.
He also wants “ZERO” emissions and thinks that is what offshore wind provides.

Mind you, he’s a Guardian reader.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Greg
August 22, 2021 6:19 am

Greg, have you considered moving?.

Richard Page
Reply to  Rod Evans
August 22, 2021 8:55 am

Who’d want to buy a house with a Guardian reader for a neighbour? Even other Guardian readers would think twice.

ATheoK
Reply to  Rod Evans
August 22, 2021 7:50 pm

Better the neighbor you know than the neighbor you truly dread but, don’t know about, yet.

Rich Davis
Reply to  OweninGA
August 21, 2021 6:47 pm

And how cheap is it when the wind doesn’t blow for a week?

And how much is spent trying to protect endangered raptors only to simultaneously pay these clowns to chop them up?

MarkW
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 21, 2021 8:34 pm

Have any of them offered to step up and pay for the batteries that are necessary to keep the system running when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?

MarkW
Reply to  MarkW
August 22, 2021 1:48 pm

Or is that, the wind doesn’t blow where the sun doesn’t shine?

Martin
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 22, 2021 7:03 pm

 “Renewables”, energy sources that should really be called non-schedulable, should be required to build their own backup power. Any other generation will be required to supply power at the time they have scheduled. If they fail they not only don’t get paid for the power they didn’t make, they get fined/charged for the failure.

LdB
Reply to  OweninGA
August 21, 2021 7:47 pm

They also ignore the fact the incumbents have paid for the existing network and want the existing providers to pay to help them come and compete. Newsflash it’s not the incumbents fault the new upstarts took so long to enter the market … reality bites 🙂
.
Mind you would be fun to enter the shoe market and demand Nike help pay for my stores and marketing so I can compete.

Last edited 5 months ago by LdB
Mr.
Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2021 8:24 pm

Yes it’s redolent of Obama’s “free” health care program, isn’t it?

czechlist
Reply to  Mr.
August 22, 2021 9:12 am

“you didn’t build that!”

Greg
Reply to  OweninGA
August 22, 2021 3:05 am

They think other energy producers should make wind power “cheap” so that they can pretend wind power is “cheaper” and price them out of the market.

You have to admit that’s cunningly effective business plan.

August 21, 2021 6:11 pm

The subsidy miners object to paying for access to the grid?

commieBob
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 21, 2021 6:53 pm

The leftists have a vision of fairness that requires that folks who do not have some disadvantage have to be handicapped so the folks who do have the disadvantage will be able to compete at the same level.

It’s like you can’t use a picture to convey information because that would disadvantage blind people.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  commieBob
August 22, 2021 4:16 pm

commie, that is the neatest nutshell explanation of the essential woke logic and thought process.

TonyG
Reply to  commieBob
August 23, 2021 10:20 am

“folks who do not have some disadvantage have to be handicapped”

Harrison Bergeron is the world of the future.

LdB
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 21, 2021 7:49 pm

Yeah that was my take as well … the leftards are so used to someone else paying

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 22, 2021 4:32 pm

Eric, I’m disappointed that Atlas hasn’t shrugged again! It would have woke wokies right up into the real world and put a quick end to it before the damage had progressed so far that 100s of millions of children and adults have become mentally ill and so much ruined. I’ve been looking far afield for where my grandchildren should go to study … Japan, New Delhi, Moscow? I don’t believe there are any Western Unis undamaged. Any ideas would be welcomed.

Drake
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 22, 2021 6:50 pm

https://blog.prepscholar.com/most-conservative-colleges

And there is Hillsdale College with no Women’s or Minority studies degrees.

commieBob
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 21, 2021 6:46 pm

… at the same time these folks and their fellow travelers complain loudly about how subsidized the fossil fuel industry is.

I have a lot of trouble understanding how the fossil fuel is subsidized. It’s really clear how the renewable energy industry is subsidized.

MarkW
Reply to  commieBob
August 21, 2021 8:36 pm

The tax rate of the fossil fuel industry isn’t 100%. In the eyes of the average socialist, that’s a subsidy.
After, they believe that everything belongs to “society” and so when government allows you to keep a piece of what you have earned, society is subsidizing you.

Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  MarkW
August 22, 2021 2:05 am

A tax break is a subsidy, in mad leftard world. They really don’t understand which way the money goes matters.

Reply to  commieBob
August 22, 2021 1:17 am

The “subsidy” is either not knowing cost accounting, or the industry not paying a hypothetical social cost of carbon.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  commieBob
August 22, 2021 5:08 pm

Goverments haven’t thought this through. Exxon (and all other oil and gas companies) are paying billions in federal, state and municipal taxes, and their employees pay billions more in income taxes and at the gasoline pumps.

The energy systems we would transfer over to has no money for the treasury, cash flows the other way. So guess where they have to go to for the cash to run gov!

The woke charge that mathematics is racist. Maybe it’s because hard figures give them so much heartburn including woke scientists who want to use stats their own way.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 21, 2021 7:11 pm

They already get tax breaks not given to traditional power sources. And most contracts have a “must take” clause requiring utilities to buy every kWh they produce, whether it’s needed or not (sometimes sold to neighbouring utilities at negative prices). And they are not obliged to help out with backup sources for when the wind ain’t blowing and the sun ain’t shining. Now they want us to pay for upgrades to the grid as well so they can sell us more “cheap” green power?

I’m in the wrong business, that’s for sure.

Steve Case
August 21, 2021 6:25 pm

The utility has to buy the electricity from the guy with a windmill in has back yard. In effect the regulation requires the utility to grant the windmill owner access to the utility’s delivery system and customer list. Sort like having to pay an executioner’s fee.

John Dueker
August 21, 2021 6:27 pm

When I added one of the early co generation plants in Texas we had to pay for transmission line improvements and its built into the utility tariffs already. Why does someone causing the need for new power lines expect the rest of us to pay for it?

And we’re already paying for their tax subsidies.

bill Johnston
Reply to  John Dueker
August 21, 2021 7:03 pm

They asked “why should taxpayers pay for it when the private sector wants to make the investment”? Doesn’t matter. Either way the taxpayer is on the hook.

Dave Fair
Reply to  bill Johnston
August 22, 2021 9:56 am

Bill, you seem to be unaware of some basic facts. If the private sector (electric generation providers, in the main case) anticipates that an investment will make a sufficient profit from willing purchases of its product, it will put up investors’ private capital. In the electric generation business governmental subsidies and preferential mandates for basically unprofitable wind and solar generation drives up costs for both consumers and taxpayers.

Since generation is mostly a “deregulated” product, wind and solar displace cheaper and more reliable generation that can no longer compete with subsidized and mandated power sources. Other, reliable, sources of generation provide the many system support services that the unreliables can’t.

To add insult to injury, the unreliables are now demanding that other generators pay for their interconnection to the grid. All other generation sources pay for their own integration.

RobK
Reply to  bill Johnston
August 23, 2021 7:01 pm

The other point that seems to be largely over looked is that transmission of RE has to be sized for opportunistic maximum production which is only delivered sporadically. The total utility of the investment is focused on the producer not the customers demand. At 20-30% of nameplate as an average production the transmission lines are woefully heavy in cost and materials and utilisation will, by definition be dismal. Who would want to pay for such a thing. These costs were known from the outset but were ignored whilst low penetration RE was absorbed into an existing robust grid.

Sid Abma
August 21, 2021 6:48 pm

The Renewable Energy Association needs to have their own independent grid network. This network has to be designed to supply electrical power to the growing EV network. This is a perfect marriage. They can put up their own battery backup system to be totally independent.
The only thing they would have to be concerned with is providing 24/7 electrical energy to keep EV’s across America moving across our streets and highways.

Shoki Kaneda
August 21, 2021 6:52 pm

Parasites gonna be parasites.

tygrus
August 21, 2021 7:22 pm

Green energy is cheap if someone else pays the cost of transmission upgrades for unreliable generation, grid stabilization, storage or backup generation.
Traditional coal used to be 50% to 90% utilisation of the transmission lines. Gas peaking plants wouldn’t use the lines all the time but added that 20% for peak loads, together its 70% average usage. But a wind farm requires 3.3x the average 30%, from 0% to 100% capacity, so much transmission capacity is wasted unless the gas/BESS/alt.src are colocated.
Grid scale solar PV is worse than wind, about 16% avg daily utilisation compared to required peak capacity (<4hrs x peak output averaged across the 24hrs).

The more it varies independent of demand (independent of scheduling), the greater the cost of transmission, integration & backup. Someone has too pay & wind+solar are the cause of these extra costs. AEMO (Australian Eastern grid) having more peaks & negative prices because fossil fuel generators having to cope with the 3% to 34% that get priority no matter the demand. Coal & gas taking most of the costs to stabilise the intermittent.

Last edited 5 months ago by tygrus
Dave Fair
Reply to  tygrus
August 22, 2021 10:02 am

The joke is that as system reliability and stability deteriorate because it is uneconomical to operate FF generators, the government will have to step in and subsidize FF generation.

Len Werner
August 21, 2021 7:23 pm

” Power project developers are uncertain if their project will be approved and this risk significantly increases the cost of capital for generation developers, which increases the cost of energy for customers.”

Wah Wah Wah. Try starting a mine. I vividly remember being part of meetings with a corporate tax consultant in the early 1980’s when we were opening an underground silver mine. We were liable for a total tax and royalty take by government of 65% of the gross value of net smelter return; each January certain of these taxes on the books were cancelled–for one year–by orders-in-council by cabinet to allow mines to operate. Try and plan for next year; there were no guarantees.

I know that sounds insane. That doesn’t and didn’t matter; it was there. Surprisingly it was ‘free enterprise’ governments that had emplaced the majority of those taxes, but that could be because the socialist governments were at that time a recent factor in our jurisdiction.

The point of this is to present a reminder that government has long been a strangler of economic development; this is not a new phenomenon faced by ‘green energy’. Why, if one was cynical they might even reach the conclusion that the purpose of government with its regulation and taxing powers is to provide the structure to allow or stifle economic development in any part of the world as the real power behind the front face of government desires and dictates.

TonyL
August 21, 2021 7:25 pm

Yes, they want others to pay for the upgrades their projects make necessary.

But there was also this gem:
“The system has reached a breaking point recently as spare transmission has been used up.”

This is one huge problem. They refer to “spare transmission”. What they really mean is Engineering Safety Margin. They chew up safety margin without paying for anything, and can get away with it simply because “it is there”. Whenever “renewables” are proposed, it seems there is never talk about preserving a grid’s safety margin. Just using “excess capacity”, like it “just happened” to be there and was totally free.
Totally parasitical.
Then they all lament about how the grid is running on the razor’s edge of reliability, claiming no understanding on how it happened.
And then they can shamelessly note that restoring some of the engineering safety margin is beneficial. (as long as someone else pays for it)
“generation interconnection requests provide economic and reliability benefits to loads and reduce congestion to improve grid efficiencies and operational flexibility”

Dave Fair
Reply to  TonyL
August 22, 2021 10:09 am

A slight change to reflect reality: “Unreliable generation interconnection requests provide uneconomic power and adds reliability costs …”

markl
August 21, 2021 7:32 pm

Reality always hits the Alarmists in the head. Someone(s) has to pay for their fantasies and when capable donors run out there is no back up.

DMA
August 21, 2021 7:35 pm

In the same line of thought, the infrastructure bill has money ( a lot) allocated for building charging stations for all the EVs soon to be needing them. To my mind that is like the feds paying to build gas stations. That bothers me but begs the question: Who will operate these charging stations and who gets paid for the charging electricity?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  DMA
August 21, 2021 8:17 pm

Follow the Greenback Road, my friend….

Stephen W
August 21, 2021 8:20 pm

I’m pretty sure coal producers didn’t build the electricy distribution network.
If green energy is cheaper, the utility companies should pay, it should be a good investment?

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Stephen W
August 22, 2021 5:46 am

Utility producers buy coal from coal producers, along with many other customers. Now the utilities are switching to natural gas. Why would the coal companies pay for the electricity distribution network? That’s like asking farmers to pay for the grocery stores that sell processed foods.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Stephen W
August 22, 2021 10:26 am

In the “pre-deregulation” world regulated investor-owned utilities (plus municipal systems and rural cooperatives) provided integrated electric service: Generation, transmission and distribution to the ultimate consumer. In today’s world IOUs must purchase generation resources on an “open market” after devesting their generation assets.

It was a great theoretical concept, but the government(s) screwed it up royally. With the ongoing collapse of FF and nuclear generation there is no way to provide nor pay for system reliability and grid expansion. The new Federal slush fund is simply a down-payment on the excessive ongoing costs engendered by unreliables.

MarkW
Reply to  Stephen W
August 22, 2021 1:54 pm

Coal producers didn’t pay to build the grid.
Coal burning power plants on the other hand did pay for the interconnects between their plants and the rest of the grid.
Renewables want other people to pay for their interconnects.

Chris Hanley
August 21, 2021 8:24 pm

Subsidies and mandates create artificial pressure and shift costs to taxpayers or consumers …

One way or another taxpayers and consumers always pay in the end, who else is there?

Pat from kerbob
August 21, 2021 9:11 pm

A grid takes generated power from generators and delivers it to customers.
The grid is exactly where it needs to be.

Wind and solar by their nature require wide dispersal over a geographic area just to get the actual capacity factors (here in Alberta it’s 32% for wind, maybe 20% for solar)

The previous NDP Govt said the grid was in the wrong place, even though it had been in the right place for decades until they came along.

It’s just another example of trying to hide the exponential costs of going renewable, getting others to pay.

Is that socialism? Charity?

Just slimy

Here in Alberta our wind is producing less than 10%, quite common

http://ets.aeso.ca/ets_web/ip/Market/Reports/CSDReportServlet

Leo Smith
August 21, 2021 10:59 pm

Every provider would have to jack up their electricity prices to end users, to pay for their share of the cost of electricity network upgrades most of them do not want and do not need.

In te UK, this has already happened.

Robert of Texas
August 21, 2021 11:14 pm

“…interconnection charges now can comprise as much as 50 to 100 percent of the generation project costs.”

Uh? If the 100% of the project costs are to build a transmission interchange, then that IS the project and no generation is being added – that or subsidies are paying all the rest. Are they saying the building of an interchange should be free? The government should fund the entire cost using taxes? While I can see that appealing the billionaires who are milking the system for all it’s worth, I hardly see the attraction to any hard working tax payer.

How about we get rid of all the delays and red tape to build nuclear power plants? They don’t need the extended power transmission lines into corn fields, will produce dependable power, and do not randomly kill birds and bats as if that were acceptable. Let Germany and the U.K. build all the wind turbines they want…I want our country to survive and prosper.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 22, 2021 10:31 am

“The Sage of Omaha,” Warren Buffett, said he wouldn’t invest in industrial wind generation without the tax advantage. That means unreliables make no economic sense.

David Kelly
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 23, 2021 7:08 pm

Robert of Texas

Your statement: “How about we get rid of all the delays and red tape to build nuclear power plants?”

I agree in principal. However, I’d add that the nuclear industry also needs to learn to curb its tendency to over-spend. Here in the U.S., a typical nuclear plant’s final construction cost averages about 500% above the original construction cost estimate. The nuclear industry has managed to get around these cost overruns by increasing their unit’s annual capacity factors from about 45% to a current +90%.

Today’s hard reality is that the nuclear industry needs to be able to convince utility planners, executives, and investors that they can construct nuclear plants within budget… Since, the industry has little room to compensate for cost overruns by improving their unit capacity factors. Unfortunately, building within budget isn’t skill the nuclear industry has mastered. And, knowing a lot folk in the “nuclear mafia”, I’m not convinced they understand they have problem.

That’s one reason I’m fan of funding R&D in the production and testing of small modular nuclear rectors. With the goal of dropping construction cost using units that are inheritably safe (in the sense that they physically can’t go critical) and can load follow. We have a 15-20 year window to achieve that goal and I think it’s achievable.

Last edited 5 months ago by David Kelly
Iain Reid
August 21, 2021 11:35 pm

Quote from the article:-

“Congress should be asking why transmission regulation is a “protection racket” that rewards utilities for spending excessively while deterring innovative, low-cost alternatives that would save consumers billions and accelerate decarbonization.”

Where is this innovative low cost alternative. It doesn’t exist except in the media and obviously in the mind of the article’s author. It certainly has never saved consumers billions or accelerated decarbonisation. Just ask Germany for instance.

The other myth that seems to prevail is that renewables are equivelant to conventional generation and it can simply replace it. Intermittency apart, renewable generation is not suited for large scale grid supply as it is asynchronous, that is, it cannot support freqency, the most important parameter for a grid to operate.

Until this concept is recognised there will be a continued push by politicians to build more.
The renewables industry must know this yet they continue to push their inferior product which says a lot for the morals of that industry.

Vincent Causey
August 22, 2021 12:12 am

Asking “green” suppliers to pay for network updates is like asking car manufacturers to pay for roads.

commieBob
Reply to  Vincent Causey
August 22, 2021 1:42 am

If you build your car plant near the road network, you get to use the existing road network. The folks who buy your cars get to use their local roads and pay taxes and license fees to support that network.

Suppose that you build a small car parts manufacturing plant a hundred miles from any roads. The government isn’t going to build you a road.

On the other hand, if you build a giant manufacturing facility and a small city to support it, the government will bend over backward to attract your business because you will be significantly increasing the tax base. They’ll build you a road and give you tons of tax breaks.

The problem of remotely located renewable energy is like the problem of harvesting timber in Northern Ontario (Canada). The loggers pay a fee to log on government owned land. They have to build their own roads to get logs to the existing road network which could be a hundred miles away. Not only that but, because the road is on public land, they have to let the public use the roads they built. link

If you think of a wind farm as a form of resource extraction, it makes complete sense that the owners would have to pay for the necessary infrastructure.

MarkW
Reply to  Vincent Causey
August 22, 2021 1:57 pm

I can guarantee you that every factory, regardless of what it makes, pays for the road that extends from the existing road system to the factories front gates.
That is what interconnects are.

Ed Zuiderwijk
August 22, 2021 1:22 am

Devin clearly lives in CloudCuckooLand.

Walter Pate
August 22, 2021 1:54 am

Alt-Left alternate universe economics at its best! Reality be dammed, we need more subsidies…

Ted
August 22, 2021 6:15 am

Imagine if one of their writers had approached them with an article stating that taxpayers should directly foot the bill for Keystone XL instead of the oil companies.

willem post
August 22, 2021 7:28 am

“Electrify Everything”; an easily uttered slogan

It would require:

– Additional electricity generation plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, bio
– Additional grid augmentation/expansion to connect widely dispersed wind and solar, and to carry increased loads for future EVs and heat pumps
– Additional battery systems to store the midday solar output surges for later use, aka, DUCK-curve management.
– Major command/control-orchestrating (turning off/on appliances, heat pumps, EVs, etc.) by VT utilities to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:
 
1) Charging times and duration of EVs and heat pumps
2) Operating times of major appliances
3) Control of electricity demands of commercial/industrial businesses

August 22, 2021 7:35 am

Would someone please remind these Green Dream Electricity Suppliers and Supporters, that the enhanced and extended power transmission lines now required are solely required because the renewable electricity plants are remote from areas of actual power demand. They also input power where, even within present grid areas, the capacity of transmission legs have to be increased in order to accept such additional power inputs in that area.
 
Also, they also have to accept that, similarly, these renewables can never be base load units,
as they cannot provide power when it is needed, but only when its available. As
a result, such renewables require massive increases in installed capacity
within the Grid System, provided by base load power stations such as Gas
Turbines which are effectively the only system that can tolerate and adequately
interface with an ever-varying power demand to match the every varying output
from the renewables. Add to this, also, the costs to the consumer of the
subsidies needed; not just for the renewable power generators but also the base
load standby power suppliers – the latter because their plants have to operate intermittently
and inefficiently and not continuously and efficiently. Also, vast amounts of
these standby base load plants are CO2 emitters. The standby plants,
themselves, when operated alone as base load units, require no such subsidies.
 
By themselves, all these subsidies distort and even destroy the competitive open
free markets in the commodity market of power generation. This further increases all our costs.
 
What is desperately needed is some firmed up and agreed estimates of the present day
(NPV) costs of remedying, repairing and otherwise managing the future costs per
tonne of CO2 emitted as well as the similar beneficial costs of increased CO2
emissions such as increased crop yields. Only then can we be presented with the
honest and meaningful comparisons of renewable and fossil fuelled unit electricity
costs..
 
Present renewable power generators will always be an unaffordable and unnecessary King
Canute desperately, but unsuccessfully, attempting to stop the waves of climate
change that have existed since time immemorial.

Shudong Zhou
August 22, 2021 11:13 am

The power grid is not a garbage disposal station! Intermittent power generation undermines the stability of the power grid and increases the potential safety hazards to the operation of the power grid. Refuse to connect wind power and photovoltaic power to the grid!

Joe B
August 22, 2021 4:10 pm

That opinion piece is one of the most extraordinarily bizarre rants that I have ever encountered.
Literally, I needed to read and re-read passages over again to ensure that I was understanding the author correctly.
Virtually 100% of the author’s claims are either completely false or so skewed from reality as to merit no serious consideration whatsoever.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Joe B
August 22, 2021 8:23 pm

He is 100% correct

Megs
August 22, 2021 5:36 pm

“the middle of whatever remote wasteland or mountain top hosts their new wind and solar arrays, would likely only be economically useful to the renewable entrepreneurs themselves.”

I wish they were putting them in remote wastelands. With existing, approved and solar recently applied for we will have more than 30 square kilometres of solar and Bess fenced off from native animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and emus. The existing solar works is only 4 kilometres from town, the others will be around 8 kilometres away. This area is prime agricultural land, wineries, and orchards.

What no one seems to realise is that the same amount of land will need to be found to duplicate this infrastructure, years before the average 21 year lifespan so that the replacement electricity supply will be available to take over. That is, if they seriously think that somehow in their wildest dreams that all this is sustainable.

Where do they think these animals go? We already have mobs of kangaroos coming through our paddocks. And endangered species? No worries, the developers just buy certificates. The animals are still displaced, but somehow it’s OK. Just what do they think the ‘Environment’ is?

And in regard to connection to the grid, if you want electricity out here in the country, the individual home owners pay for their own transformers, pole and power lines. Our power supply was in the street (a tarred road, not the middleof nowhere), of our purchased land, 80 meters from where we built our home and it cost us $40,000 to connect. We know people who had to pay even more.

The renewables developers get huge subsidies, then most times they sell the project before or soon after it’s built. They ‘must’ pay for these transmission lines. Better still, don’t build the infrastructure in the first place. They will only end up as stranded assets.

Here in Australia, AGL and Origin Energy each lost more than 2 billion dollars due to renewables. Our oldest construction company which started in 1898 went out of business due to it’s venture into renewables, leaving 3,700 out of work. The existing 87MW solar works near our town, which has been sold twice since it was commissioned in 2019, contracted 99% of its predicted output to two customers, one of them a government contract. 99% of an unknown, who does that?

They must have researched the amount of sunlight here during the drought. Well the drought broke in February of last year, we have had plenty of rain and cloudy days. Our app shows that the sunlight has reduced by 12% over the year from their predictions. No wonder they had to write down the asset. They also had a lightning strike and inverter problems. They are not only weather dependent, they are vulnerable to the elements too!

Australia is basically handing over subsidies to multinational conglomerates who happily onsell the associated problems. When they talk about renewable energy being an ‘investment’ I thought that meant there supposed to be ‘returns’. Seems to me it’s just handouts, redistribution of funds. Paying people to destroy the environment.

ATheoK
August 22, 2021 7:36 pm

The current process also places nearly all costs of network upgrades on the energy project developer, even though many others will benefit”

Why they be treated differently?
If I install something at my house, I have to pay for connection costs, House modifications to code, Inspection costs, including for the local zoning office to inspect any modifications connecting to the grid caused.

Another fluff news piece where elitists want less red tape and separate treatment because they think themselves ‘special’.

John
August 22, 2021 7:38 pm

but
the renewable energies get first right of entry and dont have to give reliable power

So its only fair that they need to pay for upgrades

They certainly arent paying to guarantee your power

TonyG
August 23, 2021 9:00 am

Anything can be a “Low-cost alternative” when someone else is paying the bill…

David Kelly
August 23, 2021 6:18 pm

“interconnection charges now can comprise as much as 50 to 100 percent of the generation project costs.”

Yep that sounds about right for a renewable asset. And … that’s before you start adding in additional hidden costs such as: excessive line losses, rapid asset degradation leading to an early loss of unit capacity (particularly with solar), and the need to fully replace renewable assets after twenty years (as opposed to refurbishing conventional assets to get an additional 30-40 additional years of productive work from fully depreciated units).

Last edited 5 months ago by David Kelly
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