This issue will review the political landscape in Washington, D.C. and Ohio. One thing is certain: BigWind and BigSun are thrilled with a Biden Presidency. There are a number of excellent articles in this issue, especially those by Robert Bryce and Michael Shellenberger who give us a bit of the bigger picture and why renewables are meaningless strategies to address climate change. They both support a move toward nuclear.
We continue to work toward legislation that will give the residents of impacted Ohio townships the right of referendum to reject industrial wind or solar projects. As additional projects emerge across NW Ohio, the burden on local communities is growing. The only way to combat this literal “power grab” is to impose a “balance of power” by restoring the right of citizens to determine their own community’s future.…
Columbus Residents Approve 100% Renewable Energy – Voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure that says the city government will get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2023. Voters gave the city the ability to use the bulk-buying heft of its population of more than 900,000 residents to negotiate a deal with an energy supplier. The supplier would provide renewable energy at a price that is the same or less than customers would otherwise pay from the utility. This will be one of the largest bulk-buying clean energy programs in the country. A City Councilman proclaimed the measure was good for the environment – we ask, “Whose environment?” Toledo has authorized a bulk purchase for city-owned facilities. (More about this in today’s other issue.) If nothing else, both the Columbus and Toledo initiatives provide a good argument against imposing renewable mandates. It appears the market is working quite well, thank you.
Renewable Trade Groups Celebrate the Prospect of a Biden Win – The Solar Energy Industries (SEIA) CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said a Biden presidency would “advance clean energy incorporat[ing] environmental justice”, while American Council on Renewable Energy (Acore) CEO Greg Wetstone called the election “historic” and one that would create “the clean energy future that Americans want, and scientists say we need”. American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan said Biden’s win would “shape a cleaner and more prosperous energy future” for the country. And Liz Burdock, CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, suggested the victory was a “vote for a future that focuses on climate change solutions [and] reengaging on the international stage.” Blah, blah, blah. The SEIA said it aimed to outline its 100-day plan, based on “pillars” of clean energy and climate policy, infrastructure and workforce development, with the new administration “to lay the foundation for a strong clean energy economy.” Hopper said: “We will seek progress with the new administration and all members of Congress on solar policies that achieve our environmental and economic objectives and that lift every community in ways that create a better future for all Americans.” The SEIA 100-day plan is attached.
The Big Four Challenges to Decarbonization – Writing for Forbes Magazine, author Robert Bryce asserts, “Decarbonizing our continent-spanning electric grid will require grappling with four big challenges: cost, keeping nuclear plants open, replacing natural gas in the power sector, and the ongoing land-use conflicts over renewables. The most important issue is cost. Who will pay for all of the needed investment? Biden put the cost of his energy plan at $2 trillion. But last year, the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimated that “full decarbonization of the U.S. power grid” would cost about $4.5 trillion. The firm said that “From a budgetary perspective, the cost is staggering at US$35,000 per household – nearly US$2,000 per year if assuming a 20-year plan.”… “But as I reported in these pages in July, coal and natural gas generation units are now producing about 2,750 terawatt-hours of electricity per year. Replacing that much electricity with nuclear energy would require as much nuclear capacity as now exists on the planet. Prefer solar? Supplanting that 2,750 terawatt-hours with solar would require 25 times as much solar capacity as now exists in the U.S. or nearly four times as much as exists on the planet. Replacing that same energy with wind will require installing nine times as much wind capacity as now exists in this country or roughly twice as much as current global capacity. “ …. The final issue – the one that academics and major media outlets routinely ignore – is the raging land-use conflicts over renewables. Biden said he wants to install half a billion solar panels and 60,000 wind turbines. But from Maine to California, rural landowners and policymakers are rejecting solar and wind projects due to concerns about noise, viewsheds, wildlife, and property values. By my count, since 2015, some 287 government entities have moved to reject or restrict wind projects. Among the latest examples: Christian County, Illinois, which, in September, approved a measure that as a local media outlet explained, effectively ends “any chance of wind turbines being built in Christian County.”
The Divided Electorate Reflected in Wind and Solar Resistance – Also writing for Forbes Magazine is celebrated environmentalist, Michael Shellenberger. He writes that at the top of Biden’s agenda, is to spend $2 trillion on climate change, almost entirely on renewables, which Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly oppose. A better approach would be a Green Nuclear Deal. “If Biden wants to unite Americans he should seek legislation to raise nuclear energy from its current 19 percent of electricity to 50 percent by 2050,” argues Madison Czerwinski, founder of a new group, Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal. That may seem counterintuitive. After all, polling shows that solar and wind are more popular with the public than nuclear energy. But most of the resistance to industrial wind and solar projects comes from people who live in rural areas which overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump.” Meanwhile, Republicans are showing growing skepticism of solar and wind. They made California’s electricity rates rise nearly seven times more than they did in the rest of the US between 2011 and 2019. And the share of electricity California generated from renewables grew just 0.75% in 2019, from 59.25 terawatt-hours to 60 terawatt-hours. “So these things [solar and wind] don’t work,” said Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a rising Republican star, in early October. “These are silly solutions. Nuclear would be a far better energy resource than solar and wind if [Democrats] cared about zero emissions.” … “Few environmentalists realize that solar farms require 300-400 times more land than natural gas or nuclear plants.”
Will They? Won’t They? It’s Complex! – We make a few observations before diving into Ohio’s energy policy brouhaha. First, despite the wailing, finger pointing and drama surrounding HB 6, there appears to have been NO negative impact on the Republicans running for the Ohio Statehouse. They gained seats. Even Larry Householder was re-elected. The only ones who failed to retain their seats were renewable-lover, HB 6 hater, Sen. Sean O’Brien and Rep. Dave Greenspan, sponsor of one of the repeal bills. Yea! The big question now is whether a repeal of HB 6 will occur in the lame duck session of the legislature. There are 3 bills pending: HB 277, SB 346 and HB 738. This past week, the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held its third hearing on SB 346 to outright repeal HB 6. More than 70 witnesses provided supporting testimony but only about four testified in person. The November 10th hearing can be viewed at https://ohiochannel.org/collections/ohio-senate-energy-and-public-utilities-committee.
Among those who testified for repeal was Erin Bowser on behalf of EDP, the wind developer who has worked in Paulding and Hardin Counties. As far as we could tell, Bowser may have been the only witness of the 70+ who actually lives in NW Ohio. However, Bowser is from Ashland, a county which notably has no renewable energy projects in the PJM pipeline. She made a point of letting the Committee know that Senate President Obhof is her Senator. Maybe that explains why he has objected to giving citizens the right of referendum to approve or deny a renewable energy project. Hmmm…..
AWEA’s Andrew Gohn was slated to testify in person but he did not. His testimony is attached wherein he states: “Finally, it is important to note that any serious review of Ohio’s renewable energy policies must include reconsideration of the draconian setback rules imposed as an amendment to budget legislation in 2014. These rules have significantly impeded the development of new wind resources in the state of Ohio and sent developers looking elsewhere to create jobs and economic development. Ohio can benefit enormously from reforming these problematic setback rules to allow Ohio to be a leader in deployment of new wind projects again.”
The Committee also held an informal hearing on Rep. Romanchuk’s bill HB 277 which would remove subsidies and mandates from HB 6. Some, including Sen. Matt Dolan, wanted renewable mandates in the bill but Romanchuk said that was a different discussion for a different time. Dolan wants mandates and he wants reduced setbacks and he appeared to be very agitated about removing “extreme impediments” to wind development.
Romanchuk stated that the matter was not complex and there was no reason not to move forward with his bill. Chairman Wilson sharply disagreed and said that the issue is quite complex. Sen. Burke offered a good example of why repeal and the potential loss of nuclear energy is complex. If a Biden Administration moves forward with a cap and trade system or regulations that require state clean air standards, the contributions of the nuclear plants will be critical. Until there is more clarity about the Presidential election, it may not be possible to pass any legislation.
Over in the House, Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, has repeatedly told reporters he doesn’t like a full repeal. He worries it would increase people’s monthly bills because parts of HB 6, like the cuts to renewable energy requirements, lowered costs in the short term. Please read the articles below to get a better understanding of legislative activity.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Senators Begin Informal Review Of Latest HB6 Repeal Bill