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Future Power
Republican Defends Wind Power from Rick Perry

A month ago, Energy Secretary Rick Perry unveiled a review studying the ways in which intermittent renewables are affecting grid stability. Immediately Democrats jumped on it as an example of the Trump administration going after clean energy. Now, Iowan Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is lending his voice to that chorus of boos as he criticizes what he sees is a policy “meant to undermine” wind energy, a major industry in his home state. Reuters reports:

“I’m concerned that a hastily developed study, which appears to pre-determine that variable, renewable resources such as wind have undermined grid reliability, will not be viewed as credible, relevant or worthy of valuable taxpayer resources,” wrote Grassley, whose state is home to a booming wind energy industry.

In the letter, Grassley also asked Perry which grid-reliability organizations and experts were involved in the study, how much it would cost taxpayers and whether the report would be open for public comment.

Unlike many of the Democrats that have criticized this review, Grassley isn’t doing so to placate his environmentalist base, but rather his constituents that rely on the fast growing wind energy industry for work.

Still, Perry is right: this is something that needs further scrutiny, especially if we’re going to see renewables take on a larger share of the national energy mix. Wind and solar energy rely on the vagaries of weather to supply power, and as a result they place a lot of strain on electricity transportation infrastructure that was designed with more consistent power sources in mind.

We can’t ignore the politics behind this, but neither should we pretend that we’re ready for the sorts of wind and solar growth most analysts are now predicting in the coming years as they become more cost competitive. Rick Perry comes from the biggest wind producing state in the country, so he understands what renewables are capable of. As Energy secretary, he’ll need to look out for our grids if he wants to be a good steward of these fledgling power sources going forward.

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  • QET

    Republican Congressmen and Democratic Congressmen have one and the same sole mandate: to divert federal taxpayer money to their donors and, if there is any left over, to their constituents. But at least the Democrats don’t perennially masquerade as the party of small government.

    • FriendlyGoat

      No, we don’t. Why? Because “small government” in the modern era has never been a truthful phrase. It’s not “small”. It cannot be “small”. No one who drills down to details wants it “small”. It’s not going to get “small”. The only thing “small” is the minds of the folks who nodded in approval every time some huckster uttered the words.

      • QET

        That’s true of some folks, but not all folks.

        Government can be small-er, and meaningfully so, if enough people had the will. But alas, not enough do.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Wile E. Coyote never stops having a new idea. There is no end to schemes which are totally destructive of both people and ideals. “Small government” is code for letting Wile E. do whatever he wants, blowing up anything he wants. But the Wile E. we know was a cartoon character who always just blew up himself. The real ones scam everyone in sight and the environment too. The idea that we can just let them all do whatever the heck they want has always been absurd on its face. There is no “small government” in the future of mankind anywhere.

          • QET

            It is unfortunate for us all that you see it that way and that you are not alone in seeing it that way. You think as so many people think–seeing only the binary (and here I thought binary was an obsolete concept) opposition of “big government” to “let them all do whatever the heck they want” which latter I am certain has never been the case in any society anywhere, ever. Minarchy is not anarchy.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You and I have lived through the doubling of the world’s population and a more exponential increase in technological possibilities—-both for good and for bad. The idea that as we have even more and more people and risks populating the earth that government(s) are going to get smaller? It’s just silly.

            I see “small government” as a big lie in two words. This kind of messaging is why I do not trust or believe in any Republican. You’re a smart guy. How in the world do you buy into this stuff?

          • QET

            I have a friend who thinks as you do. He asserts, as you do, that population increase and technology necessitate larger more intrusive government. But he never makes a compelling argument; he merely states the facts (population and technology) then the conclusion. But this sort of thinking amounts only to a self-fulfilling prophecy. If enough people believe a large intrusive government is necessary, then one will develop whether it is necessary or not. And once there, you can’t get rid of it. When the large intrusive government you believe necessary has done with snuffing out all of the evil you see in the world, it will not stop, it will not disband. There will be no “withering away.” Instead, it will find new evil to snuff out. That new evil will be you (and those like you). That’s just how power works. The goal is nothing, the movement is everything, said Eduard Bernstein. That’s why the Founders, who lived in the most technologically advanced world ever seen at the time, a world with rapidly growing populations, saw fit to design a limited (small) government.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Among the universe of thousands of issues, here is ONE that governments are having trouble with now and will be grappling forever (literally forever): Drones.

            You can be absolutely certain that governments will be however big they need to be to prevent “just anybody” from flying “just anything” to “just any place” for “just any purpose”. Neither liberals nor conservatives plan to live with fly-by murder, unlimited fly-by surveillance, fly-by destruction of property or fly-by contamination with biological agents. The Founders had no idea they would need governments for such a regulatory purpose—but we know now, and this one is never going away anywhere on earth.

            This is just one. Cyberspace risks are another. Financial trading risks are another.
            The maintenance of our present state of human rights is another.

            I’m stickin’ with “small government” (as a concept) is a joke at best, mostly just a fib-phrase for sucking in people who don’t bother thinking too much. Again, that’s not you, so WHY are you so willing to defend something so impossibly silly?

          • QET

            I guess each of us is a blind man feeling a different part of the elephant and describing what we feel as two entirely different things.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Perhaps.

  • Fat_Man

    Wind energy is a scam. Not an energy source. It is not a source of work. it is a source of rent money to farmers.

    Iowa farmers may be the salt of the earth, but they love getting slopped at the Federal trough. Wind energy is just another helping that impovrishes everyone except a few farmers and the tax shelter promoters who pay rent to them. It is just like ethanol.

  • NiCuCo

    A study published in January 2016 shows that solar and wind can provide the great majority of electrical generation at a cost no higher than today’s.

    The US could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation by 80% below 1990 levels within 15 years just by using renewable sources such as wind and solar energy, according to a former government research chief.

    The nation could do this using only technologies available right now, and by introducing a national grid system connected by high voltage direct current (HVDC) that could get the power without loss to those places that needed it most, when they needed it.

    So they modeled the US weather on timescales of one hour over divisions of the nation as small as 13 square kilometres to see what costs and demand and carbon dioxide emissions would be, and how easily renewable power could meet the demand.

    They reasoned that even though wind turbines are vulnerable to periods of calm and that solar energy sources don’t do much in rainy weather or at night, there would always be some parts of the country that could be generating energy from a renewable source.

    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/02/01/renewables-offer-quick-fix-for-us-emissions/

    See also:

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/us-could-cut-power-emissions-78-by-2030-using-existing-technology-says-study

    http://www.utilitydive.com/news/is-a-national-high-voltage-transmission-system-the-cheapest-way-to-cut-emis/413867/

  • CosmotKat

    I’ve traveled the Iowa corridor that is it’s wind farm production and it is unsightly and a blight on the environment for a state that is unsightly to begin with. Grassley, like all politicians, is jolted into action to protect his source of support. Just like the corn lobby that depends on the federal teat for ethanol subsidies. Just more special interest favors off the backs of tax payers.

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