- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Green is the in thing. It will save you money and make you healthier. Of course we all recall that little green toad proclaiming that it is easy to be green. He never promised cheap.
In California, the residents proclaimed that they wanted to be a green state. They have consistently fought against increasing their capacity to refine oil products or burn coal. In fact, they once tried to reduce all energy generation and sought to increase purchasing the commodity from their neighbors. As a result, they have the highest utility costs and experienced rolling blackouts for a time. The state is known for their high gasoline prices. The state is in dire financial conditions but they will not allow the energy companies that could provide a return on investments to build there and help out. Instead, in the spring of 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that upped the ante of requiring 33 percent of their energy come from renewable sources by 2020. The old limit was 20 percent.
In Michigan this fall, the citizens will vote on a proposal backed by the Sierra Club, the NRDC and other like-minded groups to have the state constitution changed to require at least 25 percent of all the energy consumed come from renewable sources by 2025. They define renewable sources as wind, solar or biomass. It is estimated that this will cost taxpayers about $16 billion. The taxpayers are paying because the bill also limits the utilities to a maximum increase in rates to 1 percent. That is a compounded 1 percent. So, by making this move, electrical rates will necessarily skyrocket over time.
I don’t think such decisions should be made on an emotional basis. At the present, if a person opposes such action, they are labeled as planet destroyers. They are called polluters and much worse. Where are the responsible accountants? We toss around these numbers so often we have become numb to what they actually mean.
Unfortunately, it is a difficult prospect to get at the actual underlying truths many times. While the green groups proclaim that renewable energy is cheaper than gasoline, they also decry the idea that some of the taxes and royalties that are paid back to the oil companies. Certain members of Congress almost daily make some point about the need to cut off the supports for the oil and gas industry. But, they never mention the subsidies that are given to the renewable energy industry. In my opinion, I don’t think we should give any of the energy suppliers subsidies.
Even with the subsidies, the renewable energy projects are not competitive. Ethanol gathers some $0.51 per gallon subsidies, as an example, and still costs nearly as much as gasoline. Gasoline formula changes each summer hits every consumer pocketbook as prices jump from 30 to 50 cents per gallon. A far cry from the EPA estimates of 3 to 10 cents predicted when the policy was instituted. A large percentage of the cost of a gallon of gasoline is taxes. The northern tier of states tell the people that the roads and bridges need to be repaired and the best way to handle that is to charge the people that use them. They want to do that by adding to the gasoline tax. The problem is the way our politicians handle those taxes. The money often goes into a general fund and is allocated from there to awarded projects. There is never a balance that the amount of money collected in taxes actually goes to road projects. The general fund is used to finance a huge number of items that have nothing to do with roads.
I found some numbers from the Energy Biosciences Institute in partnership with the University of California Berkley, the Lawrence Berdklet National Laboratore, the University of Illinois and BP oil. I checked other sources and they appear to be accurate. One of the current pushes is to use more sources to create biofuels. These fuels would replace diesel in airplanes, ships, trucks and even cars. Biofuels come from various sources but the one that appears to be the best is from algae. Algae is easy to grown in many mediums from fresh to salt water. It absorbs CO2. It produces a high quality replacement fuel for all of these uses. A 250 acre facility would yield about 12.300 barrels of product. However, the estimated breakeven cost of the operation would be $330 per barrel. Need to increase production to lower costs. But, a 1,000 acre facility would only bring the cost per barrel down to $240 per barrel. Compare that to crude at $92 per barrel, which most of us find expensive.
However, the Navy bought enough biofuel to fill one of their ships for testing at about $29 per gallon. The Air Force purchased product to test in airplanes at an estimated $59 per gallon. Forces are after companies such as Boeing to support the use of biofuels in their products.
Maybe it is all a ruse to get the public used to paying $10 per gallon at the local filling station. Just one more item to list to the rising costs of food, utilities, health care, sporting events, ………..