Bill McKibben. Screenshot from Michael Moore's "Planet of the Humans"

Bill McKibben: “Renewables are cheap, and everyone wants them, but there are big gaps in our ability to get it done”

Essay by Eric Worrall

According to Bill McKibben quoted, renewables are so cheap, people have to be coerced into embracing them.

From Climate Exhortation to Climate Execution

The Inflation Reduction Act finally offers a chance for widespread change.

By Bill McKibben
December 27, 2022

There are about a hundred and forty million homes in the United States. … It took centuries to build all those homes from wood and brick and steel and concrete, but, if we’re to seriously address the climate crisis, we have only a few years to remake them.

The fear is not that nothing will get done; it’s that not enough will get done, because meeting the climate challenge means, essentially, changing everything. And in America that includes changing a hundred and forty million homes. E … “The market won’t do it on its own, because the market of goods and labor—the market of machines—is a fossil-fuel market,” Matusiak said. “My house has gas pipes in it. If my furnace goes out, or my water heater goes out, the contractor is not going to sell me a heat pump, even though it’s better. They’re going to sell me a replacement for what I already have.”

The scale of the task somehow looks more enormous the closer you get to the ground. Consider Boston, the home town of Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, whose push for the Green New Deal was instrumental in getting the I.R.A. passed, … In 2020, Massachusetts voted for Biden by better than two to one; Boston did by nearly five to one. … even getting new construction to go electric is a trial—as attorney general, Healey had no choice but to rule that state law prohibited town ordinances from banning gas hookups in new buildings.

A renewable-energy engineer based in Massachusetts pointed out to me that Construction on the state’s first big offshore wind farm, Vineyard Wind, is just now beginning, after a decade of bureaucratic battles, and when it’s done it will supply less than half a gigawatt of power. “Can Massachusetts really build the needed twenty-five offshore wind farms in a decade?” he asked. At least Massachusetts has something. Sam Evans-Brown, who heads Clean Energy New Hampshire, says that his state has just five per cent of the installed solar capacity that Massachusetts has. “Renewables are cheap, and everyone wants them, but there are big gaps in our ability to get it done,” he told me.

But, beyond inertia, vested interest also presents a challenge. According to an analysis of World Bank data conducted earlier this year, the oil industry has averaged the equivalent of $3.2 billion, adjusting for inflation, in profits a day for the past fifty years. That’s both a prize worth fighting for and a war chest ample enough to make the fight prolonged and bitter.

Read more:

McKibben wants us to believe renewables are so cheap, we are struggling to muster the resources to build them? That green advocates should fight for a share of the $3.2 billion / day oil companies make?

Bill McKibben wants us to believe plumbers and electricians are shielding us from cheaper options because – I don’t know, because they are too lazy to ask householders to agree to extra work? Because they don’t think householders might be willing to discuss options for saving money?

McKibben’s claim the market won’t embrace the cheaper option on its own, that people have to be coerced, is absurd. My electrician and gas people make suggestions when I call them, I’ll always go for a cheaper option if it is available, if I have the cash, and if there is no downside.

For example, I switched to LED lightbulbs years ago on the advice of an electrician, even though they are more expensive than incandescents. I didn’t like the more toxic compact fluorescent energy saving light bulbs, because one time I broke three bulbs in a row in a confined space, trying to fit a bulb to an awkward fitting. After that I figured I had had enough mercury exposure from that particular green technology. But LED lightbulbs, they just work.

To be fair I’m not planning to get rid of my gas cooker. I run my gas cooker on bottled gas, so it is definitely more expensive than an electric cooker. But my gas cooker has one big advantage over an electric cooker – it keeps working, even when the electricity fails.

In our new age of renewable energy which is so cheap nobody can muster the resources to build it, even with truckloads of government cash, the risk of power blackouts is becoming an increasingly serious problem.

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December 28, 2022 10:05 am

cheap may be, but would you want to wait 3 h to charge your EV?
Daily mail : “Tesla owners blast Christmas car charging chaos with dozens of electric vehicles forced to wait in THREE HOUR queues at charge stations across the UK”

Bryan A
Reply to  vuk
December 28, 2022 10:43 am

Cheap…as in unaffordably EXPENSIVE
Cheap…as in chintzy
Cheap…as in worth very little (worthless)
Cheap…as in miserly (least bang for most buck)

Reply to  Bryan A
December 28, 2022 10:56 am

McKibben is rabble-rousing, Weathervane-Journalism teacher at a Podunk Basket Weaving College in Vermont

He does not know diddly-squat about wind and solar, and certainly does not know about their costs

Until recently, he was proponent of burning trees for power, until California opted against it.

He holds a wet finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing

Reply to  wilpost
December 28, 2022 11:06 am

michael moore nailed him in Planet of the Humans .

Coeur de Lion
Reply to  garboard
December 28, 2022 2:35 pm

Absolutely right, Gsrboard Strake, he came across as a silly old man one time lauding chip burning for electricity at a mill opening event – in the street amid protestors oh not so sure. Um no opinion really – move on move away.

Reply to  wilpost
December 28, 2022 11:07 am

McKibben is a purveyor of climate pornography.

Reply to  wilpost
December 28, 2022 12:33 pm

McKibben is rabble-rousing, Weathervane-Journalism teacher at a Podunk Basket Weaving College in Vermont

That would be your typical stinker in residence at most Western tertiary education institutions then?
Someone forgot to tell Peter Ridd he should have been part of the Union.

Reply to  wilpost
December 28, 2022 3:48 pm

I can’t make a professional diagnosis but McKibben appears to be another delusional psychosis case much like Peter Kalmus

Tom Abbott
Reply to  AndyHce
December 29, 2022 4:00 am

McKibben is definitely delusional.

He lives in a very scary world.

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
December 28, 2022 12:10 pm

Or E all of the above

Reply to  vuk
December 28, 2022 3:59 pm

They will say that people have to wait in line because there isn’t enough e-cars yet!

Reply to  vuk
December 28, 2022 8:15 pm

I also heard that a Tesla will refuse to charge if the battery gets too cold.

Van Doren
Reply to  vuk
December 28, 2022 9:52 pm

They are not cheap. A 3 MW windmill costs almost 5 million, to be competitive (even omitting the unpredictability) it has to cost no more than 1.5 million.

It doesnot add up
December 28, 2022 10:13 am

It’s the cost of changing 140 million homes that is the real killer. Say $100,000 a pop on average – you could rebuild for much the same money. Against that a heat pump is a mere bagatelle. Yet it still makes no sense when you have a natural gas furnace and a central heating system that can cope when we get a dose of global warming like the current snap.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 28, 2022 11:56 am

“… you could rebuild for much the same money.” Not in the most populous parts of California.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
December 28, 2022 12:33 pm

With all the crossings from Mexico labor should be cheap…

Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 29, 2022 6:00 am

Not only cheap, but worthless. The current illegals from Central America and points east are illiterate and unskilled. They will take a long time and enormous effort and cost to assimilate.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
December 28, 2022 5:59 pm

G’Day Jim,

“Not in the most populous parts of California.”

Even in the SoCal desert, you’re not going to build a residence, that meets County Code, for $100,000.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 28, 2022 12:32 pm

I’m trying to imagine a majority of homes in Buffalo last week at the mercy of heat-pumps for warmth. The mind boggles at the consequences.

Reply to  Harry Passfield
December 28, 2022 4:09 pm

You don’t have to imagine. Think of Texas two years ago.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 29, 2022 9:12 am

It’s not just the cost of changing homes. It’s the cost of adding a supplementary power source to a home that only provides power part of the time.

You already have a reliable source of power and heat. Only relatively wealthy people can afford to supplement that with intermittent “clean” power generated from the wind or sun. And only the really wealthy can afford battery banks that can store power when the sun isn’t shining. A 7.5 kW solar array will cost about $20,000 to install. Over the 25 year lifetime of the PV panels you can reduce your electrical utility costs by half if you get a lot of sunshine. But adding battery backup essentially doubles the cost of the system and the batteries have to be replaced in 5 to 10 years depending on usage. So, no, going completely “geen” is absolutely not cheaper than grid electricity.

December 28, 2022 10:16 am

Your final paragraph is spot on, Eric.
If they are so cheap why do they need any subsidy at all?

December 28, 2022 10:29 am

Sorry, Mr. McKibben, but RE isn’t cheap and not everybody wants it. All RE does is displace FF and nuclear which were cheap and reliable.

Reply to  rbcherba
December 28, 2022 10:45 am

If renewables are so great and so cheap why don’t all those pushing for them go off grid and generate their own electricity.
They soon find out that replacing batteries can be expensive and most have diesel generators to keep the deep freeze and refrigerator going and the lights on when wind and sun refuse to cooperate .

Reply to  Graham
December 28, 2022 12:03 pm

I’d rather use a cactus for toilet paper.

Reply to  Graham
December 28, 2022 6:04 pm

I once saw a video about an Australian farmer that was so far out bush, that he had to be off grid – it was just completely unaffordable to run power lines that far out of town. He had several large banks of solar panels, he also had a large shed full of batteries. Every day, he had a maintenance routine to keep the system working. He also needed a large diesel to provide when the batteries were exhausted.

To claim that RE is the cheapest solution is to treat all of the largest costs (installation & maintenance) as if they didn’t count.

Reply to  Hivemind
December 28, 2022 8:10 pm

Solar & wind can provide useful supplementary power in appropriate remote locations – mines, cattle stations, etc.

Supplementing industrial scale diesel generators and the huge arrays of storage batteries that are the main source of dependable power.

They’ve been doing this for decades all around the world.

Reply to  Mr.
December 29, 2022 6:08 am

I was on safari in Tanzania, the place was a million miles from nowhere bordering the Indian Ocean. It had a huge cell tower which ran on diesel. It went offline during rainy season when they couldn’t get the fuel trucks thru the mud…

December 28, 2022 10:33 am

Sam Evans-Brown, who heads Clean Energy New Hampshire, says that his state has just five per cent of the installed solar capacity that Massachusetts has. “Renewables are cheap, and everyone wants them, but there are big gaps in our ability to get it done,” he told me.

The key word in this quote, which Eric Worrall has latched onto, is cheap.

Cheap doesn’t only mean inexpensive; it also means inferior quality. Who, in their right mind, wants to supply their home with energy from a source of inferior quality?


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 28, 2022 11:03 am

perhaps a distinction without a difference, but the headline of this piece appears to attribute the quote to McKibben when it’s actually Sam Evans-Brown who owns the quote (yes, I know McKibben is quoting SEB). As a small world aside, I’ve raced against SEB a few times (well, I actually sucked wind well behind him), extraordinary cyclist, never knew he was a greenie.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 28, 2022 11:10 am

solar panels are cheap . controllers , inverters , bms , batteries and grid are not .

Reply to  garboard
December 28, 2022 12:28 pm

solar panels are cheap . intermittency, controllers , inverters , bms , batteries and grid are not .

Curious George
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 28, 2022 12:05 pm

“Clean Energy NH is thrilled to welcome respected NH Public Radio reporter and podcast host Sam Evans-Brown as our next Executive Director. … Many of you may know Sam, who joined NH Public Radio in 2010, serving as lead reporter on energy and environment issues.”
What a cheap expert.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 30, 2022 6:26 am

The Nazis relied on slave labour in their factories and got reduced production and quality, and not a little sabotage so why should China see anything different.

Tom Halla
December 28, 2022 10:48 am

Wind and solar are also weather dependent, and unreliable because of that. McKibben does not want to get into the unresolvable problems of wind and solar, largely because I believe his motives are other than actually providing power.
There is a nihilist, Luddite element in the greens, despite claims of “the environment”. Hostility to industrial society, and capitalism, seem to be s constant thread.

December 28, 2022 10:48 am

People aren’t so stupid that they can’t correlate their rising electricity bills with increased introduction of wind and solar produced energy. Claiming your electricity costs will reduce by having solar panels put on your roof is another gotcha. You still have to pay for grid connection to provide backup, electricity distribution, and various bonds and taxes accumulated by your energy provider. I have yet to see a true accounting of realized costs over the life of the panels. If it were actually less expensive more people would be installing them.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 11:04 am

A key element of a roofing contractor’s business is roofing replacement and repair. No roof lasts forever. A roof covered with solar panels can’t be repaired unless the solar panels are removed and replaced later. How much will that add to the lifetime maintenance costs of a home or other building?

Lee Riffee
Reply to  nailheadtom
December 28, 2022 11:48 am

I have also been told that if you have a warranty on your roofing job and you put up solar panels it voids those warranties instantly!

Reply to  Lee Riffee
December 28, 2022 1:18 pm

And you also have to make sure that your insurance policy is still in effect, at the same price, if you live in a hurricane zone.

Reply to  nailheadtom
December 28, 2022 12:21 pm

Point taken, but the roof will probably last longer than the solar panels.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Fraizer
December 28, 2022 1:37 pm

We put composite shingles on the house, with a 35 year guarantee.
Other materials can last longer but cost more.

Reply to  John Hultquist
December 28, 2022 7:45 pm

Right. Solar panels last 20 years or a little more or the first really good hailstorm, whichever comes first.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  John Hultquist
December 29, 2022 5:52 am

Those “guarantees” don’t guarantee much, once you read all the exceptions/requirements that have to be met. Also note that the cost of replacement shingles is likely all that the “guarantee” pays for; “installation” (i.e. labor, a big part of the cost, which if done right will also extend to removal of the existing shingles) is your responsibility.

So asphalt roofing is mainly “cheap” only when considering their “one time” cost. In the long run, asphalt roofing is more expensive, because you have to replace it over and over.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
December 29, 2022 8:00 am

I put 35 year shingles on my new house 10 years ago. Barring a tornado or severe hail, I expect I will not survive till replacement is needed.
I have also noticed that shingles can continue to function well past their expected life. Well ventilated roofs and cooler climates are a help.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Fraizer
December 29, 2022 5:42 am

Assuming the solar panels are installed on a *new* roof. Timing may otherwise mean roof replacement is due before the panels are kaput.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 12:20 pm

“…People aren’t so stupid that they can’t correlate their rising electricity bills…”

Not only on average are they that stupid, as George Carlin said, “Half of them are stupider than that”.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 3:54 pm

In some jurisdictions, according to comments here on WUWT, homeowner solar produced electricity is contractually sold to the utility as several times the price that the homeowner buys electricity from the utility, so, along with the large tax breaks, it is possible to get ahead

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  AndyHce
December 29, 2022 6:31 am

At the expense of the taxpayers. Again, only the giant government boot on the scale makes it SEEM like a “good idea.”

In addition to taxpayers funding the overpriced homeowner solar “sold” to utilities by government mandate, this poor quality power increases the cost of managing grid stability and increases the cost of operating the power plants that keep the lights on (i.e., mainly coal, gas and nuclear, or oil where they still use it) by reducing their usage.

So in reality the “getting ahead” is an illusion created by, as usual, hiding much of the real cost.

Reply to  AndyHce
December 29, 2022 8:02 am

False economy. Other consumers and taxpayers are bearing the extra cost.

John Hultquist
Reply to  AndyHce
December 29, 2022 10:01 am

That’s only in “woke” places.
My local provider pays 3¢ per unit and charges 9¢.
Two neighbors “went solar” and I doubt they will ever recoup the cost.
Neither has panels on the house, rather one had a pipe structure built,
the other has them on an old barn.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 4:13 pm

Lots of people are already buying the lie that wind and solar have nothing to do with rapidly rising energy costs. According the the activists, it’s all the fault of greedy capitalists, which is why the entire power system needs to be handed over to the government, because as every good socialist knows, only government is worthy of your trust.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 4:29 pm

“People aren’t so stupid that they can’t correlate their rising electricity bills with increased introduction of wind and solar produced energy.”

I remain unconvinced of that given what we’ve seen over the past year. Consider Texas as one example.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 6:07 pm

I don’t know about where you live, but in Canberra, the only reason people install them is because of the massive government subsidies – covering the installation cost & guaranteeing a higher price for electricity generated than it is charged for.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 28, 2022 8:26 pm

Also left out of the conversation is us renters who don’t own a roof for solar, yet are still paying higher utility bills because of those who do.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 29, 2022 4:44 am

Any benefits from rooftop solar are from the government putting its giant boot on the scale at taxpayer expense. Utilities wouldn’t buy a single watt of “renewable” power of any variety aside from hydroelectric without the government mandating that they do it. It is poor quality power delivered inconsistently and unpredictability, and drives cost UP everywhere it is force-fed into the grid.

Those are the “tells.” If it were cheaper, government interference wouldn’t be needed, and prices would be going in the opposite direction. If you believe idiots like McKibben and his ilk, you’re either another idiot or you’re not paying attention.

Mr David Guy-Johnson
December 28, 2022 10:57 am

McKibben has been away with the fairies for many a year.

Reply to  Mr David Guy-Johnson
December 28, 2022 12:29 pm

McKibben found good bucks in presenting enviro-virtue to little old ladies and web-page donate buttons. Lucky for him, since his BA from Harvard wasn’t really in high demand.

Reply to  Mr David Guy-Johnson
December 28, 2022 4:48 pm

I suspect that Bill McKibben is far more familiar with Trolls than fairies.

Leo Smith
December 28, 2022 11:01 am

Always tell the biggest lie possible

December 28, 2022 11:03 am

vineyard wind , mckibbens model wind farm , isn’t “ just getting started “ . avangrid backed out and cancelled because it isn’t economically feasible . and that’s his go to for a cheap renewable success story .i’m sure the failure won’t find its way into the new yorker article .

Dave Fair
Reply to  garboard
December 28, 2022 12:42 pm

No, Avangrid is simply rejecting the current purchase power agreements with the electric utilities in anticipation of a new April, 2023 bidding process for more offshore wind development into which they will fold these existing projects. Given anticipated new State and Federal subsidies and the assured government strong-arming of the electric utilities to agree to higher prices, they expect to make significant profits. Ain’t crony capitalism grand?

The fix is in: New Englanders need to grab onto their wallets. FJB, F-Leftists and F-CliSciFi.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dave Fair
December 29, 2022 4:13 am

The Trafficker-in-Chief, Joe Biden, is leading us down the path to destruction.

Worst President Evah! No question about it. And he’s only been in office two years.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 29, 2022 12:48 pm

The scariest option is what happens if the “Joe Biden” package reaches end-of life before the expiration date of 2024. “Cackles” Harris is still next in line with the neocons seriously pushing the nuclear option in the Ukraine.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Yirgach
December 29, 2022 6:50 pm

I think the same people will be running the government whether Biden is president or Harris is president.

December 28, 2022 11:09 am

Bill is what we English call an utter twat

“”Dumpster fire, not global warming, melted Oklahoma streetlamps

Senator Inhofe, God may be trying to get your attention. Check out this picture …” added Environmental activist Bill McKibben””

Stupid boy

Last edited 5 months ago by strativarius
Tom Abbott
Reply to  strativarius
December 29, 2022 4:16 am

I bet McKibben is glad Inhofe is retiring.

Inhofe’s replacement is a promoter of coal, oil and natural gas. Just like Inhofe.

December 28, 2022 11:53 am

“… everyone wants them …”. This is a seriously daft supposition. If it were even an hypothesis, it could be refuted by my stating (one of the everyone) that I don’t want any of it.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
December 28, 2022 11:55 am

Bill has an IQ of 0.0350

Last edited 5 months ago by strativarius
Reply to  strativarius
December 28, 2022 4:15 pm

He has an IQ of 100, but only a 23% utilization rate.

Reply to  MarkW
December 28, 2022 4:32 pm

He has an IQ of 100

Nameplate capacity I suppose?

December 28, 2022 12:14 pm

“…$3.2 billion, adjusting for inflation, in profits a day for the past fifty years. That’s both a prize worth fighting for and a war chest …”

“Oil” companies are in reality ENERGY companies. If there was a $ to be made you would see the likes of Chevron, Exxon, Aramco, etc. using that “war chest” to buy up these companies to preserve their very profitable leadership positions as energy suppliers.

Other than some lame virtual signaling, which have been consistent money losers, this is not happening because weather dependent energy is not sustainable.

Reply to  Fraizer
December 28, 2022 4:00 pm

I haven’t followed up to find the reality but there have been claims that some of the large oil companies are purchasing wind projects (and solar projects?) before, or soon after, they are completed because the tax credits are so profitable.

Reply to  AndyHce
December 28, 2022 9:31 pm

Right. Unreliables are so unprofitable that they can’t be done economically without subsidies.

It’s one thing to nibble at the edges in order to virtue signal and collect other people’s money. It is quite another to jump in with both feet, take the lead and do it with your own money.

Just look at how (un)successful BP was with BP Solar.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  AndyHce
December 29, 2022 6:42 am

Yes, as Warren Buffet admitted, the only thing that makes wind farms worth building are the government tax credits (that can be used to reduce taxable income of Berkshire businesses that actually produce something useful).

Lee Riffee
December 28, 2022 12:16 pm

The market won’t do it on its own, because the market of goods and labor—the market of machines—is a fossil-fuel market,” Matusiak said. “My house has gas pipes in it. If my furnace goes out, or my water heater goes out, the contractor is not going to sell me a heat pump, even though it’s better. They’re going to sell me a replacement for what I already have.”
Now why on earth would someone want to replace something that works well and is affordable with something that fills neither of the above needs? That’s because most people abide by the old “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, or, rather, if it’s broke – replace it with a new version of the same equipment.
In my situation, my oil fired boiler works fine, and my two gasoline powered vehicles work fine. The boiler keeps my house warm, it’s clean, relatively quiet and is (even with Bidenflation) affordable. Both vehicles start all the time, every time, in any weather, they run well, and they get me (and my husband) where we want to go – whether in town or out of state.

All the greens seem to be able to focus on is “big oil”….if not for “big oil” everyone would flock to the lesser solutions for transport and home heating (EVs and heat pumps/electric). And then they get mad when the majority of people want to stick with the tried and true.

And, if an HVAC tech did try to push a customer to switch from gas or oil to a heat pump, many people would react negatively to being upsold. It’s one thing to go to a car dealer and expect that the salesperson will do whatever he/she can to get you to buy a pricier model, but no one wants that when their heat isn’t working. In that situation, all you can think of is to get the heat back on and not break your bank account.

A couple of years ago my mom’s furnace was found to have a heat exchanger crack during a routine cleaning (which didn’t surprise me, as the unit was 43 years old!). Luckily there was time to choose a replacement unit, and she was given a couple of options. One was a high efficiency unit and the other was a basic one like the one she had. Well, given the price of a new heating/cooling unit, she chose the basic one.

Then there was my cousin, who had a home custom built, and it had two heat pumps – one for the first floor and one for the second. Both died within ten years! But, because that’s the way the house was built, he replaced them with new units. Those also died in the time he lived in the home and had to be replaced. He lived there for about 25 years. I have no idea why he chose such a crappy HVAC system, perhaps that’s what the builder recommended (which is much less labor for them!).

Sorry McKibben and your green slime cohorts – most people are practical and will opt for affordable and workable solutions.

Reply to  Lee Riffee
December 28, 2022 4:18 pm

That contractor would make more money if he replaced the existing gas furnace with a heat pump. There’s a lot more work involved in adding a heat pump and the heat pump costs more.

Why on earth would a contractor throw away money by not giving the homeowner the option of buying a heat pump?

As usual, the socialist has to assume conspiracies around every corner in order to explain why most people aren’t buying their lies.

Reply to  MarkW
December 28, 2022 4:53 pm

I installed both a natural gas furnace and a heat pump. They compliment each other’s capabilities. Natgas for when it’s too cold for efficient heat pump, heat pump works well during more moderate cool temps, and the heat pump cools the house in the summer.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  JamesB_684
December 29, 2022 4:21 am

A good solution as long as your local government allows you to use natural gas.

Reply to  Lee Riffee
December 28, 2022 6:30 pm

When my solar water heater died after only 10 years, my plumber tried to convince me that gas was on its way out & would be more expensive than electricity. He wanted me to install a reverse cycle water heater (in Canberra where there are only a couple of months in the year that it’s uneconomic) and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to spend 10 times as much.

December 28, 2022 12:37 pm

Intermittent/unreliable/renewables are cheap but expensive from recovery to production to operation to reclamation, so they manufactured a Net-Positive CO2 Greenhouse Effect in order to force its viability in the market.

December 28, 2022 12:40 pm

There are about a hundred and forty million homes in the United States. … It took centuries to build all those homes from wood and brick and steel and concrete. Now many of those homes have gas pipes – fitted after the house was built. In other words, Bill Kibben’s argument is nonsense: if people want a new facility they will pay for it to be installed.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
December 28, 2022 4:20 pm

There are very few homes that are more than 100 years old.

George Daddis
December 28, 2022 1:04 pm

The man has gone over the edge:
And in America that includes changing a hundred and forty million homes.”
How is it economically, never mind practically, feasible to upgrade the powers supply, wiring, plumbing and insulation of that many homes?

All for no obvious advantage to the folks who would have to (but of course could not) shell out the money. (Even if emissions were a threat, transforming America will not reduce global totals.)

In his pipedreams I can assume that he believes the issue is do important that the Federal government, who only needs to print more money, will pay – and thist will provide green jobs as a benefit!

And of course once we do the easy job of converting the USA then we can start on the rest of the world including China and India who are just itching to get going.

December 28, 2022 1:08 pm

Renewable energy isn’t supposed to work or be practical any more than electric vehicles are. EVs are the gateway to no Vs at all. Renewables are the gateway to cave-dwelling. Give it a few years, and when a tipping point is reached, when enough people have been forced into reliance on EVs and RE, the arguments currently being made by critics will suddenly be “discovered” by today’s proponents. That will require that the use of both options be curtailed. When traditional energy sources and combustion engine vehicles have been phased out and shut down and mothballed, what will take the renewables’ place? Public transit. Digital leashes. 15-minute cities. Bicycles. An imposed transition to renewable energy–as opposed to a voluntary one undertaken because it makes economic and practical sense–will end one way, and that’s in disaster for anyone who wants to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and who likes to eat.

John Hultquist
December 28, 2022 1:31 pm

 George Carlin was way funnier than McKibben.
In addition, George made sense and told the truth.

December 28, 2022 1:34 pm

Cheap for the rich who can use the tax credits, avoid grid stability cost effects, and receive better financing rates on EVs than the poor.

The main “gap” in renewables is the credibility gap coming from agenda science, advocacy-authored policies, and pitch-men like Bill. Looking a little further out, the huge but lagged gap will be in financing national debt as it spirals out of control after decades of overspending and over promising.

December 28, 2022 1:37 pm

Renewable drivers are inexpensive, but Green tech is costly to the economy and environment.

Reply to  n.n
December 28, 2022 7:26 pm

Aren’t most drivers renewable? All you need is a love interest.

December 28, 2022 1:48 pm


EXCERPT from article

All-in Turnkey Cost of Battery System, in Case of a Wind/Solar Lull of One Day

At a future date, there would be 10,107 MW of wind and 23,766 MW of solar, to provide 50% of the NE grid load
Wind average output = 3125000 MWh/y/8766 h/y = 3565 MW
Solar average output = 3125000/8766 = 3565 MW
The wind and solar MW would become 0.15 x 3565 = 535 MW, and 0.15 x 3565 = 535 MW, respectively, during a wind/solar lull

At least (3565 – 535)/0.770/0.6, available capacity/0.926, Tesla design factor = 7,083 Tesla-supplied Megapacks would need to be arranged in parallel, and would need an energy delivery of 24 hours, to offset just the wind lull; this assumes minimal additional output from other generators would be available. 

Supplied by Tesla about 7,083 x 6 x $1.566 million each = $66.551 billion
Supply by Others about $8.385 billion. See Part 1
All-in, turnkey cost about $66.551 b + $8.385 b = $74.937 billion, 2022 pricing in California 
NE pricing would be higher. See Notes  

NOTE: Tesla recommends normal battery operation from 20% full to 80% full, to achieve a 15-y useful service life. We assume the batteries are at 70% full at start of wind/solar lull, and drawdown is to 10% full, for a 0.6 available capacity. 

NOTE: A separate battery system would be needed to absorb a major part of the midday solar output, and, after round-trip losses, discharge about 80% of it during late-afternoon/early-evening, the peak demand period   

John in Oz
December 28, 2022 1:50 pm

I think his definition of ‘cheap’ means ‘cheaper than fossil-fuel alternatives after we have hampered their continued existence by raising their costs with taxes, levies, CCS laws, ESG requirements and legislating them to death”

Larry Hamlin
December 28, 2022 2:07 pm

Renewables are only “cheap” because they are allowed by generation political idiots to grossly manipulate and distort power markets by mandating energy only priority to renewables which provide no capacity value to meet load demand needs while irrationally precluding use of reliability capacity value generation which hugely increases costs for these resources that are the only generation which can meet system capacity requirements.
This entire scheme is completely energy and capacity incompetent, hugely increases system generation costs and results in system reliability debacles. These electric system consequences are driven by political stupidity and incompetence and concealed from view by media idiots who are ignorant of electric system generation realities.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Larry Hamlin
December 29, 2022 8:48 am

In simpler form, renewables ARE NOT CHEAP. The notion that renewables are “cheap” is a lie based on conveniently ignoring most of its costs.

Pat Frank
December 28, 2022 2:52 pm

Climate Execution

Given all the imposed fuel poverty deaths, I agree with Bill McKibben on this one. Executions in the name of climate is what’s been transpiring.

December 28, 2022 3:22 pm

Better go crack the whips harder in the slave labor camps of western China.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  ResourceGuy
December 29, 2022 4:29 am

And the child labor camps in Africa.

Our Dear Leaders seem to ignore the harmful consequences of their actions. I guess that’s to be expected considering who we are dealing with.

December 28, 2022 3:23 pm

How many luxury cars and inefficient rooftop solar installs can we fit in those mansions anyway?

December 28, 2022 3:25 pm

Weepy Bill has learned nothing, and he hopes that neither we nor congress haven’t, also. Regrettably, he’s probably correct about congress.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Nik
December 29, 2022 8:53 am

The other TRUE irony is that US “emissions” were falling under Trump’s policies, and with the Biden Eco-Nazis in charge, US emissions have been RISING.

NOT that “emissions” matter, but it’s pretty funny that their bone-headed policies have had the opposite effect as compared with the intended effect.

Scarecrow Repair
December 28, 2022 3:40 pm

Someone started a luxury competitor to Gucci et al some time back, using advanced manufacturing processes to make the same quality for a fraction of the price. (Yes yes yes, “Gucci” and “quality” in the same sentence, ha ha. But aside from the absurd prices, they do have a reputation for quality.) The problem was that people who buy Gucci want everyone to know how much they paid. If Gucci themselves cut their prices in half, they’d lose business to their more expensive competitors.

The new company finally had to raise their prices to get more sales.

And no, I have no links, don’t remember the brand name. But it was an interesting story, and I believe I googled it at the time and it seemed legit.

The point is, sometimes high prices increase sales.

December 28, 2022 3:56 pm

I once found a broken bulb in a shop. I brought it to a manager. Nobody before me notice the bulb. (There was no broken glass on the floor.)
How is it even possible? Or nobody cares?

Reply to  niceguy12345
December 28, 2022 4:27 pm

Store employees don’t have time to be constantly examining all the stuff on the shelves.
Customers are just there for what they need. They’ll just move the broken one to the side in order to grab one that isn’t broken. It usually isn’t worth their time to bring the problem to the attention of someone on staff.

December 28, 2022 4:35 pm

Renewables are cheap, and everyone wants them, but there are big gaps in our ability to get it done

You’re right Bill there’s just too many of us too dumb to comprehend changing the weather like smart liberal folks-

Just too accepting of Mother Nature and stuck in our ways although we could be poor victims of circumstances? Howsabout free computers and apps for dunces so we could appreciate modelling the future possibilities? Might work.

CD in Wisconsin
December 28, 2022 5:46 pm

Well, if everybody wants RE and solar panels in particular, I guess China had better start ramping up solar panel production in its Uighur slave labor camps. Eh Bill?

“The global production of solar panels is using forced labour from China’s Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, an investigation has found.

Xinjiang produces about 45% of the world’s supply of the key component, polysilicon, the research by the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University says.

It says the material is obtained under a massive system of coercion, a claim denied by the Chinese authorities.”

December 28, 2022 5:53 pm

“If my furnace goes out, or my water heater goes out, the contractor is not going to sell me a heat pump, even though it’s better.”

That’s two big falsehoods in one sentence:

  • In a cold climate like America, a heat pump isn’t better. It simply doesn’t work in temperatures less than about 4 degrees centigrade (most of autumn, winter and spring), so it uses more energy than gas would, just to stop the outside coils from being covered in ice.
  • If you pay the contractor to install a heat pump, he’ll install a heat pump, no matter how stupid the customer is.
Reply to  Hivemind
December 28, 2022 6:36 pm

I have a Heat Pump that works fine but it is an energy hog which is why I gave it up after the first year which is now 12 years ago for just the standard heater unit since I live in a hot dry summer climate, I use the Swamp Cooler which is far cheaper and easy to maintain and cools just fine thus the A/C unit isn’t used either.

December 28, 2022 6:25 pm

According to Bill McKibben quoted, renewables are so cheap, people have to be coerced into embracing them.”

Pure sophistry and delusional thinking from McKibben.

LCOE is a false metric purposely maladjusted by bureaucrats to make it appear renewables are cheaper.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  ATheoK
December 29, 2022 1:47 pm

About the same as arguing that electric heat is cheaper than heating oil while ignoring the cost of electricity.

December 28, 2022 6:27 pm


He still hasn’t improved after all these years; he now thinks there is a climate crisis which was shown to be baloney over a year ago right here in this blog,

Willis Eschenbach

Where is the climate emergency?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Sunsettommy
December 29, 2022 4:28 pm

Eco-Fascists will never let go of their mock “crisis.” It’s their excuse to remake the world into socialist hell.

Beta Blocker
December 28, 2022 7:14 pm

I live in a lowland area of the US Northwest in a location where heat pumps make a lot of sense.

When we bought our current house fifteen years ago, the old heat pump was on its last legs. So we had a new one installed, including a matched air handler, for a total cost of $9,000.

A new one of the same capacity and with the same features, plus its matched air handler, now goes for approximately $24,000.

We will keep on fixing our current heat pump as long as parts are still available for it.

Avoid 1.5
December 28, 2022 8:30 pm

It might be helpful to address the supply, reliability, customer’s preferences, and cost to transition issues that are part of the weak interest in rapidly transitioning to renewables. Telling home owners that the cost of renewables can be paid off in 20 years if they pay for the system twice through loans and the system might need to be replaced at that time is a difficult sell. Given the slow scaling up of renewables it will be important to scale up carbon dioxide removal technologies to avoid 1.5C warming.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Avoid 1.5
December 28, 2022 10:45 pm

Hate to break it to you but if co2 does everything you think it does, 1.5c is long gone already.

Just get on with your life

December 28, 2022 11:02 pm

What’s renewable about a windturbine?
The blades go into giant landfills and will never degrade.
The concrete cannot be reused, only downgraded into roadfill
The hundreds of liters of oil inside the windturbine is not renewable It must be burned.
The metals are maybe reusable but only with the use of giant gasfed furnaces.
Same story for solar panels.

What renewables?

Tom Abbott
December 29, 2022 4:37 am

McKibben was co-founder of 350 org. It’s purpose was to limit the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350ppm.

Here we are all these years later and it looks like McKibben needs to rename his organization to 420 org, seeing as how there is about 420ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere now.

McKibben was unsuccessful in limiting CO2 to 350ppm.

The good news is nothing unusual has happened as a consequence. It’s business as usual on planet Earth.

Andy Pattullo
December 29, 2022 10:40 am

Why do we continue to yield the podium to the loudest snake oil salesmen rather than devoting exposure to real science.

December 29, 2022 11:08 am

Another Eco-fascist band waggoneer operating on the level of urban myth

2 urban myths:

  1. Autocratic coercion is necessary to get people to buy cheap energy.
  2. Renewables are cheap energy.
December 29, 2022 11:34 am

My plumber/builder says his contacts in the trade –
Even those that fit heat pumps – say “don’t fit a heat pump”!!!

As Powell said – we have spent the last few years replacing what works with what sounds good…

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Hysteria
December 29, 2022 1:58 pm

A heat pump is fine in climate zones where it rarely goes below 40° F. If temperatures normally drop below that you should have some other form of emergency heat than the electric heating element which is normally built into the indoor blower unit. Most of our neighbors here in West Virginia use wood stoves or outdoor wood furnaces, both of which work quite well. Although, if you go the outdoor wood furnace route you might need a backup electric generator to drive it when the power go out.

December 29, 2022 1:02 pm

How is this fraud still relevant?

Joe Crawford
December 29, 2022 1:25 pm

I suspect Mr. McKibben has been living in la-la land so long his glass navel has become a bit fogged up :<)

Last edited 5 months ago by Joe Crawford
December 29, 2022 2:23 pm

McKibben is clearly a dunce.

As for the “miracle” LEDs, I would like to agree now that they a becoming affordable. HOWEVER, few actually last anywhere near their claimed service lives. I have one in my entryway right now that is failing after less than a year, and it is not even used very much. I have them throughout the house in lamps, and three have failed in the last year.

when installed as specialty units in various devices and in automobiles, failures are extremely expensive, since these uses don’t have plug-and-play LEDs. Instead, one has to replace the entire unit containing the failed LED. When an incandescent tail light in a car fails, it can be replaced for under a dollar. When an LED tail lamp fails, the entire unit must be replaced at a cost of hundreds of dollars.

Our town recently began replacing traffic signal lamps with colored LED arrays. Before long, many had multiple diode failures, so that they only partially lit. LED street lamps are so intense that it hurts your eyes to look at them.

We will eventually get there, when plug-and-play standardized units cost a buck or two, but they still have their distinctive flaws.

Gunga Din
December 29, 2022 3:13 pm

Bill McKibben: “Renewables are cheap, and everyone wants them, but there are big gaps in our ability to get it done”
Dear Bill, please exclude me from you count of “everyone”.
Gunga Din

PS You can also exclude “Mrs. Din”.

December 31, 2022 8:19 am

I have a heat pump/AC with a propane furnace here in Michigan. The heat pump works down to 34˚F though some have been set as low as 29˚F. Under the heat pump it “feels ” cooler than under propane heat. Probably can’t heat up the moisture from the humidifier pad as well. But, you need a back up generator or you’ll can end up like my neighbor whose geothermal in floor heating system froze while wintering in Florida and ended up having to tear down and replace their house due to mold.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Murgatroyd
December 31, 2022 12:27 pm

Sure, heat pumps will work down-to and below freezing. It’s just that with most designs when outside air temperatures drop below approximately 40° F it takes more electricity to pump heat out of that air via compression than you get running straight electric resistance heat. Of course propane is normally even more efficient that straight electric resistance heat. You need to refer to the installed units’ specifications in order to determine best crossover point.

Last edited 5 months ago by Joe Crawford
Reply to  Joe Crawford
December 31, 2022 8:24 pm

I set it on auto with 35% humidity and the controller picks the most efficient mode.
The elephant in the house is how high you set your temperature and humidity. I have talked to a mold remediation expert who has been called to many homes for organic growths and sweaty walls because homeowners have set their thermostats to 80˚F during the winter months.

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