Unatego Area Landowners Association
Andrew Cuomo is intent upon bringing the German Energiewende to New York State. It can expect the same pathetic results; no emissions gains and high prices.
In Upstate New York, economic growth and jobs that retrain young families depend on affordable energy. At this time, renewables won’t cut it. They cost too much. Three stories; California, Germany, and South Australia.
A California homeowner recently shared his electric bill in the Wall Street Journal. The first 441 kilowatts per hour (kWh) bills at 21 cents. The next 1, 324 kWh escalates to 28 cents. From there it skyrockets to 43 cents. His yearly average for a three bedroom home with the thermostat set at 78 degrees is 29 cents. By the way, the guy heats with gas. Otherwise, if he heated with electric, he’d be packing for Idaho.
These rates are coming East. Governor Cuomo’s objectives and game plan is the same as California’s, Germany’s, and South Australia’s. Same plan, same results — higher prices to the consumer, minimal change in CO2 emissions.
Currently, New Yorkers pay an average about 12 cents per kWh with mixed generation from coal to hydropower. If gas is zeroed out and only renewables are allowed to grow at the expense of other fuels, prices will rise.
The state tips the scales through subsidies, rebates, mandates, laws and regulations, prioritization of use and, in the case of New York, simply refusing permits. This means you will pay more for your energy. The increased payment is a tax. The electric companies are the tax collectors. The Governor skates. His hand is in your pocket but you’ll never find his fingerprints on your wallet.
Even though Germany is wedded to green virtue, 79% of German electricity is still produced by fossil fuels. 17% is renewable, 5% is nuclear. The Germans pay 37 cents per kWh, over three times the New York State average. After spending billions upon billions on Energiewende, their plan for a renewable future, they’ve plateaued with emissions. The reason: wind and solar always need back-up. In Germany the back-up fuel is dirty “brown coal.” To cut emissions, Germany is building Nord 2, the Baltic Sea pipeline, to import Russian gas. Russian gas is Germany’s clean-up hitter. And American LNG is in the batter’s box. Germany is looking to gas to save Energiewende’s . . . goals.
South Australia has lots of sun and wind, gets 40% of its energy from renewables. The problem is that renewables are expensive. Rates are high, again three times higher than the US average. Managing a renewable grid adds expense. South Australia hired Tesla to build a football field sized storage battery. While costs are unknown, we do know ratepayers are paying Tesla 79 cents a kWh to absorb surplus energy off the grid. Tesla then sells electricity back to the same customers. Nice deal for Tesla, collect coming and going. Lots of sun in Australia but only the customers get burned.
All this expense is unnecessary, predicated on a fallacy — to save the planet we must use renewables.
Few know the United States leads the world in the suppression of CO2 emissions. According to the Energy Information Agency, the US has lowered emissions to a level not seen in 25 years, in spite of a growing economy and a growing population. The US is Number One in total tonnage of emissions reduction, outstripping the next five nations combined. According to Bloomberg, we are the only nation that has a chance of meeting it’s Paris Accord goals, even though we’ve pulled out of the Accord. Credit all this to fracked natural gas.
On the economic side, during the previous administration’s “new normal” of 2% GDP, fracking lowered the Cost of Living Index by keeping fuel affordable. It’s given hope to the Rust Belt, burnished Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier, reversed the trade patterns of oil and gas, thus reducing our deficit. It has spurred new industry, revived old ones.
Renewable energy has a bright future. Even now it is cost-effective in specific markets. Hawaii comes to mind. But if the antis were really serious about helping lower worldwide emissions today, they’d be applying for jobs on the rigs or learning welding skills to work on the pipelines. That’s where the real environmental gains are happening.
America is leading the way. Fracked gas is making it happen.
Richard Downey is a retired New York City schoolteacher and a member of the Unatego Board of Education and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.