Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What if the "The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" isn't enacted?

Your electric bill (and the price of everything else that requires electricity to manufacture) will still go up. Probably more than if it does pass.

Why? Because instead of investing in efficiency -- which could create lots of jobs for wage-earners -- investment will be in new capacity: coal and nuclear power plants and grid expansion. New capacity from big, central plants costs more than efficiency improvements or distributed renewable sources so your bill will go up. In fact, electricity gained by through efficiency improvements cost around $0.04 a KW/hr, as opposed to at least $0.18 for nukes (not including security or waste disposal) and around $0.10 for coal.

If we care about global warming and foolishly choose nukes over renewables, we will also discover that we can't build nukes fast enough to mitigate global warming -- they're just too complicated. And if we build nukes, it will be with taxpayer dollars to guarantee construction loans for projects notorious for cost overruns and delays. Otherwise banks won’t finance them.

Renewables, on the other hand, can be constructed faster and cheaper, and with far less resistance from neighbors (no one wants a nuke in their backyard).

Also, building coal and nuke plants won’t create as many jobs, nor will they last as long. Big coal and nuke plants are capital intensive -- they require fewer, but much more expensive components than distributed, renewable power sources or efficiency improvements like better appliances, construction materials, manufactured homes, etc. which can be produced by American workers for years.

On the other hand, we can make efficiency improvements and build wind, photovoltaic, biogas, geothermal and micropower (cogeneration) sources fast enough (using American products and labor if we’re smart). And, remember: distributed power sources for efficient loads are cheaper and more reliable than big nukes and coal -- not even taking into account the waste disposal and security costs for nuclear, or the environmental cleanup and health costs associated with all that mercury, radioactive isotopes, and particulates rained down by coal plants.

You want some dollar numbers?

Here's some from this blog: "Cap & Trade: Doing Well While Doing Good"

Here are some from the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Clean Energy, Green Jobs (2009)"
Read the following from an unimpeachable source, the Rocky Mountain Institute:

Does a Big Economy Need Big Power Plants? A Guest Post

Mighty Mice (funny title, concise, enlightening information)

The Nuclear Illusion (longish, but convincing)

Rocky Mountain Institute: Top Federal Energy Policy Goals
(what we would do if we were really smart...includes some job creation numbers)

And, here's a good explanation of how Carbon Cap & Trade will work (from Greenwire):
Carbon allowances -- the glue in House energy package

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