Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Maryland Democrats propose corporate welfare for Google

Are two Maryland legislators helping Google guarantee a profit on it’s billion dollar bet on wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic region?

It certainly appears that way.

According to MarylandReprter.com state senator Paul Pinksy (D-Prince George’s) and delegate Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery) have filed a bill mandating state utilities enter into long term contracts to purchase wind generated power.

The bill did not specify a purchasing agreement with offshore wind producers, but wind was the only form of renewable energy that qualified.

The Pinsky-Hucker bill would support both renewable energy and an expansion of the wind-generated power industry in the state. Renewable energy proponents say that the only way developers can get financing for wind farms that can cost billions is through long-term contracts that guarantee a revenue stream.

Indeed, as renewable energy is more costly to generate and transmit versus fossil fuels, it is viable only through government subsidies and mandates.

Here’s where Google comes in. Back in October, Google and it’s partners announced with much fanfare a $5 billion project to transmit offshore wind power to the Mid-Atlantic region. Google has a 37.5percent stake in the project.

No government mandate. No contracts. No wind power. No need for a $5 billion transmission grid. You get the picture.

Hucker admitted as much saying “You need a bigger market. You need the utilities to participate.”

If the Pinsky-Hucker bill—reported to be supported by Governor Martin O’Malley—becomes law, Google and it’s investment partners will be the only winners and Maryland utility customers will be the losers.

Surely, Robert L. Mitchell, CEO of the Chevy Chase based Trans-Elect LLC, the company leading the Google partnership, hopes his late October investment in Martin O’Malley makes his company a winner.

A government mandate for wind power will certainly benefit Maryland wind baron and former chair of the state Democratic Party, Wayne Rogers. In 2007, Rogers used his influence to secure sweetheart legislation allowing him circumvent the Public Service Commission regulations to construct wind turbines in western Maryland.

Mandates for renewable energy force utilities to drop cheaper sources of power, which keep your monthly bills affordable, for higher cost renewables. For example, during the past legislative session O’Malley and the Democratic controlled legislature increased the solar energy requirement on utilities under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The increase amounts to nearly a billion energy tax.

Not only do the higher costs of renewable show up on your utility bill, but their costs are passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.

Mike Tidwell of the global warming alarmist group, Chesapeake Climate Action Network cited a Massachusetts mandate for wind power as successful example. However, a Beacon Hill Institute analysis of 11 of that state’s 25 renewable energy mandates found they would cost Massachusetts ratepayers “$490 million this year, more than $985 million in 2020 and more than $9.8 billion cumulatively over the next eleven years.”

Nor are the green jobs United Steel Workers Maryland District Director, Jim Strong touts this mandate will bring, guaranteed. Over 79 percent of $2 billion in federal stimulus grant money for renewable energy grant program went to foreign manufacturers of wind turbine components. Furthermore, as the Spanish experience shows every government created green job destroyed two non green jobs.

The Maryland Reporter article notes that Tidwell, Strong, along with Environment Maryland’s chief Brad Heavner are part of coalition lobbying for wind energy mandates. This is the same lavishly funded coalition, which formed the "lead policy/lobbying group," for Maryland’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which is set to unleash a storm economically ruinous taxes and regulations.

The proposed wind mandates are yet another example of the corporatism, which defines one-party Democratic in Maryland.


Ian Logsdon said...

You are, of course, assuming the cost of coal power ends at the power station, but the cost of operating a coal plant in damage to air quality, harm to human health, and the effects that CO2 emissions have on the global climate (refusing to acknowledge this cost is convenient and ridiculous, carbon is very difficult and expensive to pull out of the atmosphere) are all externalities that the coal plant is forcing the public to pay for. The fact is, people don't want coal plants built in MD, the utility has to deal with that.

John J. Walters said...

These stories need to be publicized.

Too often, people think that when companies get successful all they do is suck up profits and oppress the little guy. Instead, what we have happening is companies like Google boldly making the investments that need to be make without costing the taxpayers a dime.

This needs to be the ongoing education initiative of the conservative movement. The people need to see just who sucks up profits and who invests in our country's future.

I think that many people find that the roles they expect are reversed.

Mark Newgent said...

Ian most people not running around yelling "the sky is falling" know alarmists overstate the cost of those "externalities."

Anthropogenic carbon emissions play only a role only at the margins when it comes to global climate.

If they did then emission reduction schemes would have an actual effect on the climate. They don't. Even if the Kyoto Protocol was fully implemented it would have a barely detectable effect on gloal climate.

Fact is, even accounting for these "externalities" the cost of implementing such solitions outweighs the negligible benefits.

Some "people" may not want coal fired plants in Maryland but I'm not willing to pay more on my monthly utility bill so you can salve your conscious about (not)doing something to save the planet.

Ian Logsdon said...


You're flat, plain wrong when it comes to human impacts on warming, I'm not going to bother getting into it because you've clearly made up your mind on it, but beyond that, every energy sector has received large subsidies starting out. Nuclear power still (and will likely forever) requires massive subsidies. The growth of wind and solar installations has already greatly reduced costs, and we'll reach existing grid parity in the next ten years. In the meanwhile, its cheaper in many states to build wind than it is to build a new coal plant, and the operating costs of wind power is much lower than coal.

What you're forgetting is that the people voted this government in, and they are doing our will. Its legal for Maryland to place mandates on BGE, its good policy, it creates jobs and after initial expense produces long term electricity at low upkeep costs.

I'm not talking about carbon trading, I'm talking about low carbon electricity, which we should subsidize more than we already do. Its just plain better for the economy than relying on non-renewable resources.

streiff said...

anything is cheap if it is massively subsidized. That is the only way wind is ever economically viable is with huge subsidies.

There are zero areas in this country where wind can compete economically with coal or gas on a per KwH basis your assertion to the contrary notwithstanding.

Solar might be viable for some micro applications but again there is nowhere in the nation that solar can put electricity on the grid for costs comparable with coal or gas.

In fact, when one considers the environmental impact of manufacturing solar panels and the installation of wind farms one is struck by the childlike faith of those who assert those hugely harmful and energy intensive projects are actually environmentally sound.

Nuclear is expensive because of the insane degree of regulation of that industry and the near impossibility of finding a site that will avoid decades of litigation.

Mark Newgent said...

"Doing our will."

How Rousseauian of you.

Well given that Maryland features the same iron triangle of one-party Democratic rule as California, and is on the same track of waging war on itself as the Golden State--how's that general will working out for you?