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The U.S. Energy Policy
A Discussion

January 11, 2016

With Barack Obama’s pocket veto of a bill to repeal his Clean Power Plan (CPP) and his recent increases in taxpayer subsidized-funding for alternative energy; traditional energy sources will need to invest an estimated $90 trillion of investment to meet carbon dioxide reduction goals.  The CPP, yet again, puts more value on a personal agenda than allowing free market economics to achieve similar goals.  

Solar/Wind Energy -- Fundamental Issues:

Power storage is incredibly expensive on a large scale:
It’s currently economically impossible to store power during darkness. It costs about $15,000 per household and these batteries only last five years!  One of the world’s most powerful set of batteries in Fairbanks, Alaska, weighs 1,300 metric tons and is larger than a football field.  Even so, it can only provide seven minutes of electricity for about 12,000 residents.

The older U.S. grid is incompatible with solar/wind power: 
About 70% of the U.S. transmission system is over 25 years old and not compatible with solar/wind power.  In order for the power grid to function, the supply and demand must match.  Wind and solar energy – unlike other forms – aren’t reliable energy sources that can be increased or decreased to meet demand while they also fail to deliver on overcast days, darkness and windless periods.

Rebuilding the power grid to handle solar/wind is expensive:
The largest cost for solar/wind energy is building the transmission infrastructure to get it to market. Merely building a 3,000-mile network of transmission lines capable of moving power from wind-rich West Texas to market in East Texas cost $7 billion. 

Solar/wind can’t keep the lights on by themselves:
Solar/wind power systems require conventional backup power generating plants for lightless/windless periods.

Solar/wind are a small percentage of the power grid despite subsidies:
In the first eight months of 2015 wind/solar power produced only 2.3% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. despite enormous government subsidies.  Other types of energy like natural gas and nuclear are far better suited to fulfill future energy needs.

Low natural gas prices: 
Natural gas reserves in North America are abundant, making it both an economical and a clean source of energy.

Nuclear energy has enormous potential: 
Because of regulation and environmental lawsuits the construction of nuclear power plants has been stymied.  The first new nuclear reactor in 20 years was recently approved. Modern reactor designs are much safer and emit less radiation than the coal plants they’ll replace.  They take less space than wind or solar facilities and are more flexible in meeting energy demands.

When considering the abundance of other energy sources, we should be developing an energy policy emphasizing natural gas, nuclear, and at times coal.  Instead we have put roadblocks in the way of their use, thereby limiting our energy production options.

Our energy policy goals should be to diversity our energy supply while continuing to strive for a cleaner environment.  We should stop subsidizing energy sources, especially those that haven’t proven to be economical like the failed solar panel maker Solyndra.

Bill, Mark and John


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