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Wayne Lusvardi
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As a 20-year government utility employee and public union member allow me to correct some misconceptions. It doesn't seem to be understood that the so-called Big Oil companies are fighting for their jobs just like you would if you were them. Here is why. First, green power will not reduce air pollution in Cal's urban areas because the coal energy plants that will be affected are in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, etc. So all that AB 32 and green power will do is hypothetically reduce air pollution in other western states, not California. The solution to pollution is dilution. Putting fossil fuel power plants in California's coast air basins traps pollutants and leads to smog. But putting them in the desert or out in the plains leads to much less air pollution (in reality coal and gas power plants will still have to run full time to back up wind and solar power because the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. so there is not even any real improvement in air pollution anywhere). Second, AB 32 Green Power won't necessarily create jobs in California. Wind power is the big push in California. For wind power to work the entire western U.S. needs to be gridded up with expensive new transmission lines. So if wind is not blowing in, say, the desert north of Los Angeles, but is blowing in Oregon, then that is where L.A. will get its green power at that moment in time (via the Pacific Intertie). So that means that the green jobs for California's power may be in West Texas or Oregon. And vice versa, when the wind is blowing in California but not in, say, Utah, then California will provide power and get the jobs. This is why the Fed. Energy Reg. Commission FERC has recently mandated that green power be stored in batteries or salt caverns along green transmission line routes. If green power can be store then California will retain the green jobs, taxes, and revenues within their state. But green power storage is 8 times more costly than the average price of base load power. California has not seen prices like that since the 2001 Energy Crisis. So the only way that wind power can compete in price is in the spot and peak time markets where energy prices are typically higher (during hot days and cold snaps). If Green Power for peak time markets gets to trump conventional sources of power, then the oil and gas companies and CITIES and utility districts that operate peaker plants will be thrown out of business without just compensation for their losses. So the oil and gas industry is only trying to protect their jobs and also educate the public that Green Power will be much more costly and actually will not reduce air pollution in California.
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Mar 15, 2010