‘Green energy’ & dead canaries

‘Green energy’ & dead canaries

California long has been a state laboratory for perverse public policy experiments. And the latest mess it finds itself in should serve as an object lesson for what not to do in Pennsylvania.

Millions of Californians have been losing electrical power over the last week or so during a record-setting heat wave. Rolling blackouts have been the norm to prevent a collapse of the entire power grid. Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for an investigation.

A good place to start that probe would be into the same kind of short-sighted environmental policies for which too many in the Keystone State pine.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the blackout should serve as “a cautionary tale as states across the country increase renewable energy and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels that can generate round-the-clock power.”

Simply put, “green energy” sources such as solar panels and wind turbines can’t get the job done. Yet coal-fired generating plants have been scuttled and eco-wackos have successfully forced the closing of scores of natural gas-fired power plants. They’d like them all mothballed.

As The Associated Press reports, an estimated 9 gigawatts of natural gas generation — enough to power 6.8 million homes — has been retired over the past five years as California turns increasingly to renewables. And that “leaves fewer options when the sun sets and solar production wanes,” it notes.

It’s all part of a grand – and wholly unrealistic plan – to have all of California’s electricity generated by renewable sources by 2045. It’s now 36 percent and is mandated to be 60 percent in a decade.

But the head of a trade group representing power producers nationwide says California is the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.”

And political leaders can’t seem to grasp the science error of their ways, proposing as a “solution” even more “green” schemes. That would include more, more, more backup battery systems, the creation of which, given the mined mineral demands, could create an ecological disaster.

Oh, and never mind that all this “green energy” can’t come close to matching the economic and operational efficiency of natural gas.

As Kermit the Frog was wont to say, “It’s not easy being green.” Neither is it prudent on the rammed-down-your-throat scale that “progressives” keep pushing.

Pennsylvania’s targeted percentage conversion to renewable electricity generation is a far cry from the California experience. But given the commonwealth’s abundance of dirt-cheap natural gas, there’s no excuse for even modest renewable goals.

And there’s certainly no reason to join a nine-state consortium that sets a price and caps on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Known as the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” it should be more accurately titled the “Regional Kill the Economy & Raise Prices Initiative” considering its marketplace perversions that would result in no discernible environmental benefits.

The bottom line remains that “green energy” has led to gross operating inefficiencies that have increased prices on a product whose generation has become less and less reliable.

Gee, what’s not to like about that dead canary?

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).