Letters to the Editor

Clean energy

March 14, 2012

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To the editor:

No matter “what’s the matter with Kansas” we Kansans ought to be demanding that the energy used in our homes, workplaces and vehicles be generated by clean, safe and renewable methods. This means (1) converting as soon as possible to wind, solar and hydroelectric power, (2) converting coal, gas and oil fueled plants to these cleaner sources, which are readily available in Kansas, and the technology for which already exists to produce, store and transmit their inherent energy, (3) not allowing shale oil to cross Kansas on its way from Canada to Texas, and (4) closing down Kansas’ only nuclear energy plant, Wolf Creek, which is aging, beset with technical problems and overdue for decommissioning. As though the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters were not enough to convince us that tornado- and earthquake-prone Kansas is no place for nuclear reactors.

With federal and state authorities acting in tandem with the energy producing experts to implement this conversion, the cost of power will come down, more energy jobs will be available, we will be safer, and the future of Kansas will be brighter. Perhaps, someday, nothing will be the matter with Kansas.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

"With federal and state authorities acting in tandem with the energy producing experts to implement this conversion, the cost of power will come down,"

That statement is so wildly factually incorrect that it is not possible to address all of the ways it is incorrect in anything less than a rather lengthy book. In fact, I don't think it would be possible to print it in only one volume.

Jimo 3 years, 3 months ago

Indeed.

While technological progress has advanced sufficiently so that some countries (those that lack a political party like the GOP - bought and paid for by oil companies) are making plans for a 100% switch-over from dinosaur fuels, it's important to note that this is not cheaper. (At least in the short run.)

Granted, once you adjust prices for pollution, environmental degradation, national security, puffing up the treasuries of radical jihadists, fat government subsides, etc., the true market price of fossilized fuel is far more expensive than the 'sticker price'. But renewables are not yet technologically efficient to be called 'cheaper.' (Although that is just a matter of time. That also explains why the U.S. military is pushing hard for renewable sources of energy.) So, yes the price is higher but price is only part of the cost. And in the end, it's only cost that matters. (Why do I suspect that those who don't grasp that price isn't cost are the same bozos who can't understand that global climate isn't today's weather event in Topeka?)

I also note that construction of the Keystone II Pipeline would cause gasoline prices in the Midwest to increase not decrease. Not only is Canadian 'shale oil' earmarked for export from the U.S. (hence the need to ship it across the continent to the Gulf Coast) but the pipeline's immediate purpose is to relieve the present oil glut in the Midwest from the Keystone I Pipeline that already moves oil from Alberta to the Great Lakes. Prices would increase by roughly 20 cents per gallon once the second, Southern pipeline was complete.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 3 months ago

One really does wonder sometimes whether the more outspoken environmentalist wackos wish we all lived in tents, rode horses for transportation, and cooked over campfires.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Oh, for the good old days, when people as old as many of us were already dead.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Wars predate antiquity by eons, capitalism is literally as old as spoken language, and the younger generation has thought that the world's problems were all due to their predecessors at least as long as written language has existed.

Your turn is next.

Jimo 3 years, 3 months ago

This insight from the eminently rational fellow who said "The notion that the Bush administration is responsible for the state of our economy when Obama took over is the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime."

Mike Ford 3 years, 3 months ago

cato....should we all take the Koch money like it sounds like you're doing? some of us are better than that.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 3 months ago

Great post. A rare splash of common sense on this forum.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

It is working great for Governor Brownback. Koch money is easy money man. Take the money. No one cares if a governor is in Koch's pocket, it is all good man. Go GOP go.

George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

I love it. We convert to clean energy, we save the planet and we save money. What more could one ask – except some realism

Jimo 3 years, 3 months ago

Sometimes I get the impression that the left believes the only reason we don't power the world by wind, solar, algae, etc. is because of a plot by oil companies rather than limitations on the present state of technology. On occasion (such as when I read this letter), a very, very strong impression!

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Do you remember the marvelous new invention from about 1970 that allowed any car to get over 90 miles per gallon by the simple injection of water into the carburetor?

But then the oil companies bought up all the patents and threw them away, because then gasoline sales would drop to almost nothing.

It's very strange that although all those patents have long since expired, we haven't heard another word about the "water injection carburetor" since then.

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

They use it in race cars in tiny amounts to lower combustion temps so the compression ratio can be raised without detonation. Actually, most of those systems use wiper fluid. First generation RX7s used antifreeze injection for cold starts. Of course, neither are high MPG cars.

tbaker 3 years, 3 months ago

The author is naïve beyond hope. Facts and reality don’t stand a chance against entrenched enviro-dogma. The only way to show people like this how terribly flawed their world view is would be to grant them their wish. Shut off all the objectionable power plants and stop all use of petroleum products. When they start to freeze and starve they may be willing to discard their juvenile idealism for a more rational approach.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Using up non-renewable resources, and polluting the environment so much that it causes irreversible damage isn't particularly "rational", from my point of view.

tbaker 3 years, 3 months ago

Where in my post did I save I was in favor of that Jafs? You assume too much. The "renewable" energy sources are not mature yet and won't be for decades to come. In the mean time, we should use a "bridge" fuel that is cleaner than petroleum-based fuels, much cheaper, and abundant in our own country. As I said, a more rational approach.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

Why do you say they are not yet mature? What has added more electricity to the grid during the past several years--wind, coal or nuclear? See below for the answer.

The reason solar companies are going under currently is because the price for new solar panels is dropping so quickly that it's hard to get a return on the considerable investment it takes to develop and manufacture them, when compared to what china is cranking out. A bigger market to sell to will help us keep some players in the mix, which is one reason folks are so excited about the military buying into renewables big time.

Nobody's saying that we should switch over everything to renewables tomorrow as far as I know, but a definite transition has already begun and will continue to accelerate in the coming years. Your pronouncement that renewables won't be ready for decades just doesn't reflect the current reality.

Ragingbear 3 years, 3 months ago

Wind turbines are already illegal in many counties as the wealthy think they may spoil their view from their 10 million dollar spring homes.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Clipped from: http://www.naturalnews.com/034234_wind_turbines_abandoned.html

Literal beacons of the "green" energy movement, giant wind turbines have been one of the renewable energy sources of choice for the US government, which has spent billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing their construction and use across the country. But high maintenance costs, high rates of failure, and fluctuating weather conditions that affect energy production render wind turbines expensive and inefficient, which is why more than 14,000 of them have since been abandoned.

Clipped from: http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/46519

Minnesotans for Global Warming report that in the last 30 years, the United States has had 14,000 wind turbines abandoned. Apparently, once the subsidies and the wind run out, these 20-story high Cuisinarts are de-bladed and retired. This means more bats and migratory birds will live.

From Minnesotans for Global Warming: “The symbol of Green renewable energy, our savior from the non existent problem of Global Warming, abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons like it’s too cold or the wind speed is too high.”

Clipped from: http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech-mainmenu-30/energy/9977-wind-turbines-green-subsidies-under-fire

Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies pumped into the so-called “green-energy” industry, almost 15,000 windmills — maybe more — have been left to rot across America. And while the turbines have been abandoned over a period of decades, the growing amount of “green junk” littering the American landscape is back in the headlines again this week.

Across the country, subsidized wind farms are meeting increasing resistance — and not just from taxpayers and electricity consumers forced to foot the bill. "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?” wondered Heritage Foundation policy analyst Ben Lieberman, who deals with energy and environmental issues. “It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

It turns out that wind power is expensive and inefficient even in the best wind-farm locations in the world. And regular power plants always need to be on standby in case there is no wind, not enough wind, or even too much of it — a fairly regular occurrence.

That is why, when the tax subsidies run out, the towering metallic structures are often simply abandoned. In their wake: a scarred landscape and dead wildlife — the very same ills offered as justifications by administration officials for preventing oil exploration.

“Wind isn't the most important thing about wind turbines. It is all about the tax subsidies. The blades churn until the money runs out,” noted Charleston Daily Mail columnist Don Surber last week.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

It's amazing what you can learn if you do just a little bit of research. Or if you read instead of watching television.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

The next really big government subsidy is going to be to pay for the removal of the remains of over 15,000 giant wind turbines.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

Um, gee whiz, it is almost unbelievable what you can find on the internet, isn't it? Maybe next time you should emphasize the "unbelievable" part of it. You paint a picture of an industry which seems to have a fleeting impact and a long trail of abandoned turbines, when in actuality, much more electricity has been added to the grid by wind power than by new coal or new nuclear for the past several years.

Why not try a reliable information source for a change, like, say the US Energy Information Agency? It shows that in 2008, 24,000 MW of electricity was generated by wind, and in 2010, 39,000 MW of electricity was wind generated, or 15,000 MW added to the grid in a mere 2 years. Compare coal for the same time and you will see that only 3,478 MW of new coal generated electricity was added to the grid. Don't bother to look for additional nuclear power, as there was none, and hasn't been any for quite a while.

How 'bout the future? Looking ahead to the projections from 2010-2015, new gas is projected the lion's share of growth, with adding 34,000 MW of new generation, while wind is projected another 15,000MW followed by coal with 9,480 MW of new generation. Nuclear is projected an additional 312 MW of new capacity, perhaps through turbocharging existing plants as no new ones are projected to come online before 2017, if even then.

But because it does not take much time to tool up a new wind turbine, these projections are probably quite low as they only reflect planning mostly through 2013, and could be quite a bit higher if federal incentives for wind are extended. And don't get me started about subsidies: coal, nuclear and oil have received and continue to receive way more of them than renewables ever have, so if you you want to stop wind incentives, how about stopping oil depletion allowances, nuclear loan guarantees, depressed mining prices on public lands, etc. first?

Finally, a wind turbine does not have the life of a centralized power plant, which means that it does need replacing every decade or so--but so what? It's quick, relatively inexpensive, and the investment pays for itself much more quickly than any centralized power plant, and lord knows how much decomissioning a nuclear power plant will cost and who will foot that bill.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Explain this: Why do they quit operating the wind turbines as soon as the government subsidies end?

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

I have an advantage, a friend of mine works for the state of California in predictive electrical demand. It's amazing what you can learn from experts in their field.

Bill Griffith 3 years, 3 months ago

They don't. Reason: They are paid for and the fuel is free for the utility.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

Is this a "have you quit beating your wife?" type of question? Seems to me that the EIA stats show a steady, robust increase in wind energy production, so you seem to be asking a question based on false premises.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

Ron said: "Explain this: Why do they quit operating the wind turbines as soon as the government subsidies end?"

Easy answer: it simply isn't true. How do you explain that wind generated electricity in California has doubled between 2005 and 2011?

Bill Griffith 3 years, 3 months ago

Also, wind contractsfor over a decade have a clause about the developer decommissioning the wind site and putting it back the way it was before. It is now a non-issue.

somedude20 3 years, 3 months ago

Can't we just make an extension cord out of some special material that won't melt and plug it into the sun? I have seen others siphon electricity and cable from their neighbors so why can't we do it with the sun? Another idea, can we get all of the worlds mice or rats and make a giant wheel that when they run in it, it creates power How about this, so many people in the world believe in some form of a higher power so just have all of the world pray to their maker all at the same time asking for some help, that should work....yeah, thats the ticket

usnsnp 3 years, 3 months ago

Dont know if building the pipeline or drilling more oil will drop gas prices, but I doubt it. With china and india standard of living increasing they will use more oil, of course you can tell them that they do not deserve the same standard of living we have in the United States, but I doubt that they will listen. Oil is traded on the world market, price rise for a barrel of oil is influenced by speculators, the only way a country can buck this is to nationalize their oil industry and or say that no oil that is pumped on its land or territorial waters will be soild on the open market. Politicians have no real control over how much a barrel of oil costs. As long as we have a free market oil companies can sell their oil to the highest bidder no matter who it is.

George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

Politicians do have some control. Oil prices in part vary with supply and demand. Bring on more oil and there is a good likelihood prices will decline. This is not a permanent solution but it will work in the short turn while we bring on at a measured and financially affordable pace other and better sources

One of our big problems is people like the author who believes there is a silver bullet. He and his cohorts pressure Mr. Obama thorough the Democratic Party and low and behold we do not bring on more sources.

Mr. Obama stood up the other day and bragged that more had come on during his term – yep but sources approved under Mr. Bush. It take time to develop a new source

We desperately need to depolarize this issue and come up with an agreeable national plan for energy independence – not in two years but in my lifetime.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Until the U.S. achieves energy independence, our needs for energy are going to heavily influence our foreign policy.

And, that includes getting involved in wars on the other side of the world.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

The only chance our country is ever going to have to get close to energy independence is if we stop wasting so much of what we already consume. The technology is already out there to drastically reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool our homes, businesses and schools, and there are huge gains being made to make our transportation system more efficient. Add a vastly more flexible and robust electrical transmission grid and we have the kind of energy savings to be able to snub our noses at those holding us hostage in exchange for the energy sources they control.

These technologies generally cost less to install than it does to build a new power plant or oil pipeline, so I don't know why it's not more patriotic to save energy than it is to drill, baby drill. Sure it means changing some habits, but there are plenty of folks out there who are eating healthier and exercising more--that's a choice, too, you know.

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

"You would think someone would come up with a way to "move the heat" to where it might be used."

They do better than that. Right now they are burning coal at 1000 degrees (and belching carbon like the devil) so my house will stay between 70 and 80 degrees, depending on where I want it.

Electric furnaces and electric water heaters burning electricity generated at high temperatures would be more direct analogies.

In reality, I'd like to see all energies burned as efficiently and as cleanly as our resources can afford. Direct fuel injection is going to change cars probably more than going from carburetors to port or throttle body fuel injection did. Just get ready to pay for it.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

If i had billions, I would make fancy ads, about dirty coal. Clean coal, repeat it until it sounds like Pork the other white meat. Pork is not a white meat and Coal is dirty.

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

The previous post brought to you by dirty coal. Since clean coal is dirty, we might as well remove all the filters implied by the fake slogan, "clean coal", right?

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

Those ads say nothing about filters, they just say Clean Coal over and over again. Now if you want to assume that coal is all clean, I assume you watch fox. You buy the ads. That is not just sad, it is the disease that is destroying us.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

Pretend you can figure. Why wouldn't the ads tout what makes coal clean. You say the filters. If they talk about filters it might interfere with their other campaign to deregulate, the burden of all these ladela environmental restrictions on business. Sophisticated ads, repeating a lie, half the message is what they don't say.

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

Can you pretend your computer isn't running on coal? Every post you make is another lump of coal and some more carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Why do you hate the environment?

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

yup , you got nothing. To sell your 2 cents would take a million in advertising. Pretend coal is clean all you want. I never said coal didn't generate electricity, but cmon, you have to be stupider than a cow pie to believe CLEAN COAL.

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

I got it. You are concerned about the environment, but not concerned enough to turn off your computer and stop burning coal.

As for the coal, I'd like to see it made as environmentally friendly as we can within our means. I really only mentioned it to point out the hypocrisy of you using electricity generated by coal while whining about coal.

You stick with the little-nerd-boy arguments and I'll deal with the larger philosophical issues. Your mind is incapable of the abstraction necessary to do anything except parrot the hard leftist line. Worse yet, you have the wit of a dog hair.

And you are a hypocrite. I just wanted to reiterate that since it's the point you seem incapable of understanding. Hypocrite.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

Great argument, lol Liar. You think it is hypocritical to use electricity if one is concerned with the environment. . Don't lie about what I have said. If you are making the argument that coal is clean, make it. You think it is hypocritical to claim coal is dirty, I think it is stupid to pretend it isn't.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

If you really think coal is clean, you are probably stupid. Is the energy worth it, that is a good question.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't have to pretend. Check the US Energy Information Agency and you'll find that over 3,754,000 MW hours of electricity was generated in Kansas by the wind in 2011. That's up from a little over 270,000 MW hours in 2005.

David Reynolds 3 years, 3 months ago

Gerald, if you want people to listen to you try to be constructive & please state your case without all the negative overtones. They are totally unnecessary. Thank you.

George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

Hi Doug County. Yep, but it takes time to replace our housing stock or our commercial facilities. We are doing what we can but if you demand too much too fast you will end up with nothing.

I know we will all be burnt to a crisp by climate change. So is your choice we go back to the 1200s or die? I believe we are much more creative than that and will work this all out without destroying the economy. We might all have to move north but just think of the “Black Hills” as a semi-tropical paradise.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 3 months ago

Moderate, You say we are doing what we can, but it seems to me that we're just getting started. Much of the existing housing stock and commercial facilities don't have to be replaced: unlike a car, you can successfully retrofit buildings, turning them from HumVee energy hogs into Priuses, creating lots of local jobs in the process, and financing the whole shebang on the money saved from wasting less energy. None of that sounds like destroying the economy to me, so I'm curious why you seem to think that I'm advocating such.

Nobody has to move north, but it sure seems like we will be learning to live in an environment more like Oklahoma City than Kansas, although both places are places of extremes so expect the usual droughts, floods, tornadoes and ice storms in our future. I think we should all be thinking of the wild plants and animals who are even more disoriented than we are by these extremes and consider creating protective habitats to help them survive the shifts.

George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

I disagree with you.

It cost quite a bit to retrofit older facilities. We are doing so at a measured pace. Of course we can tax everybody into poverty and go faster.

I also disagree that we can finance it on savings from energy. I have invested considerable sums in my home and reduced my energy consumption by about 10%. The cost has gone up 40%. Where did my savings go? Ahh - into wind energy with a 40% availability that will require further investment in gas turbines or some other near term source.

What is it - 98% of all the critters on the planet have gone extinct. I suspect that trend will continue despite the best efforts of those that think they can reverse it.

Those that do not like Oklahoma in Kansas can move to SD and find Kansas again. Of course that is simplistic as change will be somewhat unpredictable,

There is no silver bullet.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

fhnc, it would surprise me if you actually thought. Your arguments are denigrations. Not much there of interest.

George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

NOT A CHANCE. The planet can get quite a bit warmer, still be within historic bounds and we will adapt.

George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

Your choice. But if you believe what you wrote, camping will not help you avoid your projected environmental disaster

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