I was planning to take a holiday break because no one is around to read the rant anyway, but this subject landed in my lap from Utility Dive, which leads to this article in The Christian Science Monitor. Lack of federal “energy policy” makes for easy writing. The notion comes from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
First off, the IEA should familiarize itself with our form of government, which in a large sense remains just as the founders intended – with a strong dose of federalism. Federalism boils down to states’ rights. Although federal government grabs all the power it can, we have a fiercely independent bunch of radical states and wildcatter entrepreneurs. The federal government, and every president since Nixon, has cried about getting us off foreign oil. One solution: ethanol. How did that work? It didn’t. Well, it consumes about half of our largest crop, if that is success.
What has really worked is technology developed in the private sector, by small companies on private land. Brett Stevens from The Wall Street Journal has a great opinion piece on this, just published a week or so ago. He says, very wittingly, that it happened so fast the feds didn’t notice; i.e. weren’t able to stifle it. Is this the kind of policy the IEA is talking about?
As I recall reading recently, domestic oil production, since an interim high in gasoline prices was hit in June, has increased by roughly a million barrels per day. The result is that gasoline prices have fallen 88 consecutive days. WOW! In the energy efficiency world, we need to compete with this, albeit not directly since we don’t get electricity from petrol – but the same entrepreneurial drive is needed in our business. Bring it on, I say.
The negative side of the petrol bonanza is that it will result in even more hulking SUVs and humongous engines. On the other hand, everyone has to love the fact that this is really putting the hurt on Putin and other rebel nefarious oil-rich countries. It curbs their aggression. It curbs their control and power, even within their own countries.
Meanwhile, at the state level, can anyone claim renewable energy production isn’t soaring? See for yourself with the chart below.
About those greenhouse gases – the same technology, “fracking”, has played a huge role in cutting GHG emissions to the lowest level in 17 years, per MIT. We are almost down to 1990 levels.
What does EIA want? An Iranian model for the US (largest oil company in the world)? Probably not.
The CSMonitor article talks about the uncertainty of production tax credit for wind energy, which as mentioned recently, is 20 years old. Uh, what about the Clean Power Plan that was finagled with bits and pieces of the Clean Air Act. Even an avid supporter of emission reductions, and professor of law from Harvard, says it is unconstitutional because entities regulated under section 112 of the act shall not be regulated under section 111. The real problem here is congress doesn’t have the spine to legislate and pass laws, therefore, agencies finagle, and finagling ends up in court. That is uncertainty!
A bigger threat to our energy security is not in supply but in our infrastructure and its vulnerability to physical and cyber attack or EMP – electromagnetic pulse, like from a nuclear weapon high over the continental US. Heard of “The Interview”? Kim Jong Un ring a bell?
If there is a risk to our energy supply, and far more dangerous – our entire society, this is it. I’ll write about this later, but the thing everyone takes for granted is reliability of electricity equal to one outage day over 10 years. That is what we have in this country. We can’t do anything without electricity: banking, buy groceries, communicate, air travel, pump gasoline. The luxuries we have are all predicated on reliable electricity. Think about that. Our “policy” should be focused on making sure we can go to work in the morning, get paid, and make payments electronically. Leave the rest to the states.