Colorado must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the substances blamed for global warming, by roughly 37 percent in the next 13 years to protect its lands and citizens from the harmful effects of the warming trend, a powerful blue-ribbon panel said Wednesday.Oh, God.
To do this, they've got soem big plans. They're going to "impose inverted rate structure on electricity users so that customers who use more, pay more. Use any extra money generated by higher rates to pay for more energy-efficiency programs." (Al Gore should be glad he doesn't live in Colorado.) They're going to conserve their way to success. They're going to invest in renewable energy. They're going to reduce overall energy usage by 1 percent "annually" by 2013. They're going to make companies report their emissions.
"Impose inverted rate structure on electricity users so that customers who use more, pay more. Use any extra money generated by higher rates to pay for more energy-efficiency programs", they say. In other words, the State of Colorado is imposing a use tax on energy. If you use more power than the average person, you'll pay more for it; but the power company won't get that money--the government will. It's a "luxury tax" for electricity!
They're going to require that 24% of the state's electricity come from solar and wind power? Do they not understand the shortcomings of solar and wind power, or do they just not care that all the solar panels in the world are useless at night, that all the windmills on the planet don't produce so much as a single microwatt if there's no freaking wind blowing? When you want or need electricity, you want it now (if you don't believe me, go shut off the power to your house. Leave it off for two days. Then see if you've changed your mind). Solar and wind power sound very fine on paper, but when it comes to the generation of electricity in commercial quantities, they're worse than useless.
And what's this BS about "reduce overall energy use by 1 percent annually by 2013"? Reduce from where, by what, in what time frame? Reduce 1% from current levels by 2013? Reduce 1% per year, for a total of a 6% reduction, by 2013? Or what?
It takes energy to do things, and beyond eliminating waste there is not much you can do. Even the most efficient air conditioner still requires power to pump heat out of your house, and the only way you can reduce your energy use is to keep your house less cool. A heater still requires energy to pump into your house, and the only way to reduce its energy use is to keep your house less warm. (It gets pretty cold in Colorado, doesn't it?) It takes a certain amount of energy to move a car around and beyond certain measures you can't improve on that figure, not reasonably.
(Incidentally, will they also apply their "use more, pay more" tax to gasoline? I'd like to see how they manage that. Maybe they'll just levy huge license plate fees on bigger vehicles.)
They're going to increase ethanol production. Whoopee.
But the most pernicious quote is, I think, this one:
John Nielsen, who represented Western Resource Advocates on the panel, said Colorado should push as hard as it can to promote energy efficiency because it is the cheapest way to reduce CO2 emissions - much cheaper, for instance, than paying for new natural gas-fired power plants.Sure; it's really easy to make things happen when you aren't the one who has actually to do them.
"Efficiency is simple," Nielsen said. "This is where we need to be aggressive."
"Efficiency is simple"? Which efficiency? The first 50%? The last 5%? Does this idiot even understand the magnitude of what he's saying? Has he never heard of the law of diminishing returns?
The average Chevrolet sedan manages about 32 MPG. This is with V6 engines, a lot of composite construction, and relatively light vehicles. To get to this point GM had to spend literal decades in R&D, learning how to make cars which performed well enough for the average American consumer yet which were lightweight, safe, and affordable.
For all of this, the average car self-destructs in a moderate-speed collision (say, 30 MPH) to the point of needing major repairs. In 1992, I hit another car at about 30 MPH in my 1991 Escort; the Escort was about 18 months old and it was totaled.
What do they have to do in order to get more efficiency? Honda had one answer when it came out with its first hybrid vehicle. But it cost $20,000--for a car smaller than a Civic (Honda's economy model)--and it got about 30% better fuel economy than other cars in its class according to the EPA rating.
You can build a car that gets 100 MPG...but few Americans would buy it unless they had no other choices.
Mr. Nielsen speaks as if power companies and citizens are wasting energy left and right, as if there weren't already economic consequences of wasting energy.
A power company must pay a certain amount of money in order to get fuel for its power plants, regardless of what they use. Doesn't it make sense for a power company to minimize its fuel costs?
But you can only take that so far. If you want to put a kilowatt of energy onto the power grid for consumption, you must burn enough coal to release more than that kilowatt, because no system is 100% efficient. When it comes to increasing efficiency, you must look at how much greater efficiency your money will buy: is it worth it to spend an extra $2 million per month on this or that technology? Will we be able to recoup the costs and--if so--how quickly? Is the extra efficiency necessary? If we spend the money, will the fuel savings be significant enough to matter?
You can build the cleanest, most efficient power plant ever conceived...but if you can't make a profit by selling the electricity it generates, it's worse than useless.
It makes sense to eliminate waste wherever possible...but only to a point, because once you've gotten there, you're wasting money.
And the real hell of all this--the real, central stupidity of it all!--is that we don't even know what man-made carbon dioxide has to do with global warming. We know the globe is about 0.6°C warmer than it was 107 years ago; we know that most of that warming occurred before 1940, and we don't know why. The data suggests that carbon dioxide levels trail, not lead, global temperature, but the correlation is only poorly understood and doesn't match the climate cycles nearly as well as the solar activity cycles do.
From here it looks to me as if Colorado is planning to screw up its economy with a load of snake-oil. What a pity.