Some Day, My Prince … Er, Cheap, Green Energy Will Come


You may have been keeping half an eye on the proposed power plant that a firm called Invenergy would like to build in Burrillville. Friday, the Providence Journal reported that

Invenergy has failed to sell the second half of the power output of its proposed fossil fuel-burning power plant in Burrillville to the regional electric grid.

Opponents of the proposed plant understandably view this development as good news. However, it is not a fatal blow for the proposed power plant, as the article notes.

Further along, the article also notes that New England has had 4,200 megawatts of generating capacity taken off line (my observation: this happened in large part due to out-of-control EPA regulations by the Obama administration), and another 6,000 megawatts are at risk of going off line. Accordingly, many of us are concerned about the cost and continued adequate supply of electricity.

Environmentalists believe they have the answer.

But opponents of the plant say that renewable sources can fill in any need for new power in New England.

Yikes. Sorry, no, that is simply not the case. Look, if and when a reasonably priced, reliable, widely available green energy source is discovered, most of us, not just devout environmentalists, will cheer. But it hasn’t happened yet. Current green energy sources – comprised mostly of solar and wind – are very expensive and are not reliable. (The sun doesn’t always shine; the wind isn’t always blowing – or, out at sea, it may sometimes blow too hard.)

This article, tweeted out by a friend, is a cautionary tale from across the pond: certain European countries are experiencing power shortages – like outright blackouts – apparently because they transited too much of their grid over to green energy. That article also notes the very high cost of electricity borne by ratepayers throughout Europe, due in part to green energy mandates.

Further and importantly, closer to home, a report last summer by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity emphasizes that the very high cost of Rhode Island reducing carbon from its energy supply by shifting over to green energy would far exceed the benefits that would accrue. And before someone jumps up to point out that, well, sure, that would naturally be the conclusion of a center-right organization, this is, in fact, by the standards of the EPA, not exactly an arm of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. (Side note: accordingly, the Center’s call for Rhode Island to roll back all green energy mandates is spot on as their continued existence is clearly now indefensible.)

That there is so little benefit to Rhode Island continuing with green energy is precisely because our (regional) energy generation has shifted to natural gas, a fuel source that emits far less carbon and pollutants than oil and coal. In fact, this would be a good time to note that the proposed Burrillville power plant would be powered mostly by natural gas.

I actually don’t dismiss the prospect of a reliable, affordable green energy source simply as a fairy tale. The title of this post refers more to the gauzy, unrealistic attitude of some environmentalists THAT SUCH A SOURCE HAS ARRIVED and we can act accordingly when, in fact, that is something that will hopefully happen Some Day.

There is no need to repeat Europe’s mistake. Unless and until a feasible green energy source is discovered, we are not in a position to move away from fossil fuels. Simply shutting down all fossil fuel-powered electric generation – or stopping the construction of replacement plants – will only serve to needlessly drain our wallets and overtax our electric grid. It will not, as some well-intentioned but very misguided environmentalists seem to think, accelerate the discovery of a feasible green energy source. To do so would be to shove us all off a cliff on the theory that we will be forced to create a parachute on the way down.

  • Guest

    Don’t worry about green clean energy, all those jobs Deepwater Wind promised making Rhode Island the hub of Northeast wind farm creation
    are evaporating too!

    It seems Deepwater Wind just created new executive offices in New Bedford to build the Long Island, NY wind farm and touting New Bedford as their new savior for building offshore wind farms.

    Deepwater Wind will be milking Rhode Island for every penny it can get out of the state and ratepayers for the next 20 years so time to move on to greener pastures with more suckers!

    • Monique Chartier

      Well, isn’t that nice.

      Indeed, on the larger point, our hard earned rate dollars are being pointlessly spent building a company whose sole business is the forced sale of an exorbitantly priced boutique commodity (electricity). This is an unmitigated, completely unjustified ripoff of all Rhode Island ratepayers. Our elected officials have the power to end it – and they should do so promptly.

  • Mike678

    Well argued. Thanks.

    • Monique Chartier

      Thanks, Mike.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        I second Mike.

        • Monique Chartier

          Thank you, Rhett.