December 10, 2012

“There are going to be screw-ups. There are going to be bankruptcies. There’ll be indictments and there’ll be deaths. But we’re going to keep going – and nothing’s going to stop me” [Darleen Click]

So says California Gov Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown about solar power … and how he’ll “crush” any opponents, regardless of the corruption, shenanigans and outright fraud of the industry.

The promise of clean and cheap solar energy is getting a second look in California, where utilities are required to get a third of their power from renewable power by 2020. But after millions in tax breaks and handouts, the industry’s honeymoon is over with some counties and ratepayers, as the expected jobs, savings and revenue have not materialized.

California’s Riverside County is producing more solar energy than anywhere in the U.S., with close to a dozen solar plants either online or proposed.

“On the face of it, it looks like a good deal. They talk about all these huge jobs and long-term benefits to the county. The truth is, it’s a very short term,” Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said. “We’re going to be carrying the burden of having these types of facilities for decades to come, and because of the incentives that have been provided by federal and state government, there’s virtually nothing left for the county government or the local people to get benefit back after the small number of construction jobs are gone.”

Unlike Riverside’s 500 megawatt natural gas-fired facility, which pays $6 million a year in property taxes, a solar plant being built a few miles away will pay next to nothing, just $96,000. When Riverside balked at its own upfront infrastructure costs and tried to impose an impact fee, the industry sued.

The industry stands by that response. […]

Riverside said it deserves something, considering the hundreds of square miles of land it is giving up to be covered by mirrors and solar panels.

“From the perspective of the company, it may be a billion-dollar investment. But for the most part, that’s not money that’s coming back to the county that’s going to be the host,” Benoit said. “So yeah, I appreciate the investment. But I think they kind of overstate the number of jobs and how long they’ll be here for their own PR reasons.

“But the long-term effect is clear: We’re going to have a desert that’s dramatically changed and forever off the tax roll and out of use for any other recreational or other purpose.” […]

Stanford economist Frank Wolak, a California energy expert, said solar could boost consumer energy bills up to 50 percent, a finding similar to the state Public Utilities Commission. Solar power from two recently approved plants range from $100 to $200 per megawatt hour, at least 8 times higher than the $16 consumers pay for natural gas. [..]

“There’s been a policy to fast-track and install these utility-scale renewable energy installations that are on the scale of five to 10,000 acres each,” said April Sall of the Wildlands Conservancy. “We’ve seen thousands of acres of the desert bladed and now undergoing utility-style construction to basically convert that from pristine habitat that included those sensitive plants and animals, to becoming potentially a dust bowl.”

The two largest green groups in the U.S., the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, have remained silent on the impact of Big Solar on land use and endangered species, which is not so with gas, oil or coal. Sall and other local environmental groups say the Washington-based organizations see climate change as a bigger threat and therefore won’t get involved.

Yeah, sure, it would have nothing at all to do with killing cheap, efficient energy which allows for maximum freedom — anathema to the Leftist agenda.

California is screwed, but you, in the rest of the country, are even more stupid and/or venal if you all don’t learn a lesson from our misery.

Posted by Darleen @ 10:37pm

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Comments (32)

  1. Matt Ridley in conversation with Gerry Ohrstrom of PERC.

  2. Every single day, I hate this state, and the morons running it, more and more.

  3. Well they also want to stop urban sprawl as ex-urbs are known and this ought to stop it by tying up lots of land around each city.

  4. Even the fiscal Nazis in Germany fell for this scam.

    There is something wrong with the human brain.

    Did Brown say that top-down theft-based crony olar power was going to kill people? Has he been taking Biden pills?

  5. I think a lot of it is just folks who don’t want to admit they were wrong.

    Something isn’t working it’s because you are doing it hard enough.

  6. Well into the third year of the weakest economic recovery since at least the mid-19th century, less than two months before the U.S. government was scheduled to plunge off a “fiscal cliff,” an American public deeply and rightly dissatisfied with the economic and political status quo voted to lock it into place.

    On November 6, voters who just two months earlier had given Congress its lowest Gallup approval rating in 38 years (a measly 10 percent) ratified Capitol Hill’s existing balance of power. The Democratic majority’s edge in the Senate grew from four votes to nine, and Republicans at press time held a 41-seat advantage in the House of Representatives, just slightly down from 49 prior to the elections. Presiding above this hopeless stasis was the man who four years earlier campaigned on precisely the opposite: Barack Obama.

    If elections are up-or-down assessments of politicians’ job performance, then this was a vote in favor of trillion-dollar annual deficits, bailout economics, and failing the minimum competence test of passing an annual budget. Federal policy for four years has produced lousy short-term results for the price of long-term insolvency, and now the characters responsible for this misgovernance have been given a pat on the head.

    The Idiocracy is here.

  7. Pingback: Your energy costs are necessarily going to skyrocket » Cold Fury

  8. How can The Idiocracy be here when The Best and the Brightest: the next generation are in charge?


  9. In flyover country, the energy boondoggle is wind power.

    Oh, and cellulosic ethanol too, I suppose.

  10. You know what works? Communist China.

  11. I told ’em not to give the burned-out porch light a third term as governor. They wouldn’t listen.

  12. And Mussolini made the trains run on time!

  13. Jerry Brown in California, Jimmy Carter in Washington D.C.

    Everything new is old again.

  14. I can proudly say that I never voted for Moonbeam, not even when I was a dope smoking hippy.

  15. riverside is depressing

  16. Riverside County and San Bernardino County are both depressing and ugly pieces of real estate. This makes them ideal for the vast prisons that reside there.

  17. this is mind boggling. I know an engineer in CA who has been in the “solar industry” for many many years. Talking to him is torture because he’s functionally retarded. I also take customer requests at work from engineers all over the country, and whenever I get one that screams idiocy I can always guess it came from the west coast – I don’t even have to look at the address. I’m always right. It’s a fun game.

    California is completely fucked. I think they are going to be the anchor that helps drown the rest of us

  18. he’s functionally retarded

    I’m not sure what this means, besides engineers are not really (in general) socially adept.

    I include myself in that generalization.

    Solar is viable as a supplement, but not as a primary source. I’m not sure what there is to discuss, there. Anyone who thinks solar is a viable primary source needs to address storage, which is a separate issue altogether, and also needs to address seasonal/weather variations, which pretty much come down to long-term storage.

  19. It’s like being a functional alcoholic. The engineer is functioning as an engineer, but he is retarded.

    No slur intended toward other engineers who are brainy guys and girls making our lives better and more wholesome.

  20. Hm. You’re saying that some institute of higher education unjustly bestowed an engineering degree on this guy? Or that he’s functioning as an engineer but isn’t, actually?

    Not meaning to beat this to death, but…that’s the engineer in me, I guess.

  21. I’m not sure solar is even viable as an affordable supplement.

    In my underinformed, inexpert opinion, solar and wind only make sense in a distributed (instead of centralized) generation system. You’d have to start covering roofs with solar panels and building backyard sized windmills and feeding surplus energy into the grid.

    You might be able to convince the utility companies that they’d be as well or better off selling and servicing all those solarl panels and windmills, but you’d never get the government to give up it’s tax collection scheme.

  22. It’s cool. My first husband was an engineer. He’s not loco, just a sociopath.

    I will say from my experience with my first husband who holds two engineering degrees from Cal Poly that it has something to do with living on the Left Coast. It’s a mental software glitch that can be overcome by leaving California.

  23. *I think a lot of it is just folks who don’t want to admit they were wrong.*

    When it comes to the environmentalists, I’d say its less about admitting they were wrong and more about how many of them will lose their jobs if the green lobby can’t convince a majority of the people that global warming/global cooling/climate change/polar bears dying on the ice is real. Its not like these climate “scientists” have the skill set to do anything else if the government teat from which they suckled dries up.

  24. Maybe we need to do some research into Lex Luthor’s plan to activate the San Andreas fault.

    For the children.™

  25. Solar is a great way to reduce the trickle load on a municipal energy budget. If done right, and maintained correctly (which it won’t be), stoplights, emergency lights, some street lights, etc…

    It’s no way a replacement.

    Photovoltaics are squirrelly anyway, dirt, heat, and age will reduce efficiency. Plus, battery issues. Using heat from solar is probably a better bet. Especially in places where it’s hot. Pre-heating water for steam generation would maybe save a bit of fuel. Maybe not.

    Want to reduce emissions, spend the money on wave generation research and build some fucking dams.

  26. LMC, I say we skip straight ahead to nuclear power plants.

  27. If we were serious about engergy independence instead of posturing and preening for moral effect, we’d be building power plants like meth tweeking beavers about now.

  28. Here in Georgia a lot of school zone signs use flashing lights to indicate when the school zone speed limits are in effect. Nearly all of the light setups are solar-powered, even when the morning hours are pre-dawn. Obviously the panels charge batteries to cover hours of darkness or thick cloud cover.

    For a small-load, brief-usage application like this solar seems to work just fine — then again, I’d be surprised if the lights didn’t also have an emergency backup system drawing on the grid for when the panels can’t keep up.

  29. leigh

    I beg to differ that San Berdo & Riverside are ugly

    Think Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Mission Inn, Glen Ivy Spa …

    It is a hell of a lot prettier than LA county

  30. Solar panels are excellent in situations where other power supplies aren’t readily available. It’s still a marginal item in my opinion.

    Most people seem to forget about the cost and energy involved in manufacturing solar cells, and the cost of maintenance. It’s much the same with hybrids – they take a lot more energy to manufacture, and the initial cost and the cost of replacing the battery never seems to be considered by proponents.

  31. You’d have to start covering roofs with solar panels and building backyard sized windmills and feeding surplus energy into the grid.

    The problem is that in the nature of electrical generation you have to have enough generating capacity that’s either operating continuously or can be spun up quickly to match the power demand. If your whole region of solar covered roofs is under a foot of snow, then unless you want to turn off the power you have to have the generators. Germany is in the process of finding out all about this.

  32. That’s why you need both solar and wind to power your house.

    But yes, if we were serious about energy independence, we’d be building nuclear reactors like crazy.