Given the way the government is beating up on a certain foreign oil company this morning, it's easy to think perhaps this is the impetus America needs to align government, industry, and popular sentiment toward developing home-grown renewable energy sources. But a look at the charges the Bureau of Land Management levies against solar power projects on public lands tells a different tale. In fact, it seems the more efficient your power plant, the more the BLM wants you to pony up.
The government justifiably charges private businesses rent if they want to operate solar or wind arrays on public lands. But on top of that there is a compicated fee structure -- the "megawatt capacity fee" -- that drives the total rent as high as twice the market value for comparable private land. The BLM -- again, justifiably -- says its just trying to get taxpayers something back for private enterprise that benefits from the land they own. But the way the fees are structured is somewhat suspect.
The BLM is essentially charging more efficient technologies more in megawatt capacity fees. According to NYT's Green Blog, a photovoltaic plant that deploys big PV panels has to pay $5,256 per megawatt. But more efficient solar thermal plants that use solar energy to turn a steam-driven turbine are hit with a $6,570 fee. If either technology is coupled with an energy storage system that delivers power even when the sun doesn't shine -- a key component to making solar power more than just a secondary energy resource -- the fee takes a flying leap to $7,884 per megawatt.
If you're generating 550 megawatts, like First Solar's Riverside County, Calif., PV array is expected to, that's a lot of money, and the consumer has to pay that. We're more scientists than economists over here, but that fee structure seems like it creates a vast disincentive for companies to deploy more efficient, better solar technologies. It's a consequence of trying to adapt archaic oil and gas leasing models to new energy paradigms, and frankly it seems at odds with our stated goal -- and I'm talking directly to President Obama and DOE chief Stephen Chu here -- of developing renewable energy resources right here at home.
Public lands belong to taxpayers and indeed private enterprise should pay fair market value to lease them, but saddling these projects with outrageous costs pushes up the price of solar energy, keeping carbon fuels in their current position as market darling. Weaning ourselves from foreign oil -- and eventually all oil -- seems a far better public reward than a monetary benefit paid to the public coffers.
Don't subsidize winds, geothermal, PV, solar thermal, etc. and have them build the power plants on private lands as current power companies have to do and I might be able to muster some sympathy.
Also, not only do public lands belong to taxpayers, but so does the freakin' tax money that the gov't is spending.
It is all easy isn't it? Just build a fusion reactor with a flux-capacitor made out of unobtainium and all of our problems just go away. You can ride my magical unicorn that poops skittles to the "green" mining site where you can just pick the unobtainium off the ground with no environmental impact. Actually, it is carbon negative!
Right on, JohnR. And let's keep drilling in the Gulf, too. What could possibly go wrong?
Hey Greg...do a little math. How many freaking billions of gallons of crude has been pumped from the ground with little or no incidents?
Using your logic, there was a car crash just today so we need to stop driving all cars.
I'm no dirt-worshippin', tree-huggin' hippy, but to say that this current oil disaster is like a car crash is insane. The environmental and economic impact of this situation is HUGE!
Little or no incidents? If you say so. And burning those fossil fuels is no problem either, right?
Sure John, your analogy works - by the way, that car crash wiped out all the animal and plant life in New England. No big deal though, right?
JohnR has a problem the the government subsidizing alternative energies but apparently no problem with the $15 to $35 billion each year in subsidies (from taxpayers) that goes to oil companies.
Greg - Yup no problem at all. Without CO2 we would all cease to exist...plants kind of need the stuff and actually thrive in the higher concentrations. Funny how that works.
Thefty - Yup, no big deal...while we are hypothesizing, lets add California to the list as well as the entire NE corridor. Yup, no big deal like the oil spill off the coast of Mexico did in the 1970s and was supposed to turn the whole gulf into a dead zone, yet at this moment the new oil spill is killing all that life...that was supposed to be dead.
I know, when the Dear Leader speaks, you must follow his commands, so I really do not blame either of you...but if you choose to think for yourselves, give this a read. It is even from a nice liberal rag...
Nope, I want those dropped too, but hey, thanks for speaking for me anyway. I do not believe in either corporate or human welfare.
"I know, when the Dear Leader speaks"
Now I see where you are coming from. Keep us posted on Beck's topic tonight.
It's always good to hear from a superior being like Johnr. He Gave birth to himself and survived by eating his own waste. Later he learned to run down mountian lions for dinner. He was just three. He informed himself by studing Foxx News. He is ready to tell us all how to live on fresh lion kill.
Don't watch Beck, but I do know who he is. I have read exactly two books he has written. He wrote a great non-political book called the "Christmas Sweater". On the political side I read "Common Sense" which is based upon Thomas Paine's writing, which is why I read that one...but you would call Thomas a right wing nut job these days so stay away from that stuff before you actually learn something.
and how to cook it over a burning oil slick
JohnR, you seem to be a complete idiot. It is irrational people like you that make the world the crap hole it is.
Clearly I am superior to you, but I do like your analysis of me. Those mountain lions were too fast, I had to fashion a bow & arrow to get them. Parental rearing is not welfare. You must not have children, otherwise you would understand that.
Also, I watch almost no news. I read nearly every bit of information I get. I scan 18 different news sites including non-US sources pretty much every day.
We're talking about the Glenn Beck that used to be a so-called shock jock?
Like you say: "when the Dear Leader speaks"
Please stop, my feelings are hurt...*sniff*
Yeah, complete idiot...Engineer, put myself through college with minimal help from my parents, six-figure salary, I take care of my family (including my extended family) all without government help...oh how can that be? I must be making that up. I'm sure you will tell me that...
If your part of the country is a crap whole, look in the mirror and you have a 50/50 chance of finding the source.
That would be YOUR mirror, John.
Snappy come back. Zing! That's going to sting for a while.
It's been fun kids. I hope you all read some educational material and learn that things are not the way you want them to be, but in fact they are the way they really are. You better ask you parents first just to make sure you are allowed to read non-liberal things...Don't want you guys to get grounded or anything.
I guess Rush comes on at 6:00.
John, you are the perfect example of an intellectual idiot.
JohnR, you're a fan of thomas paine?
Then i'm sure you're aware that he was rabidly anti-christian (especially for his time), an early environmentalist, advocated for a minimum wage and social security (an old-age pension fund, and both long before they were popular political ideas), and believed the us government should (and had the authority to) free the slaves by force. The fact that you far-right libertarian glenn beck fanboys like him is ridiculous and absurd.
Funny, I think what John's saying makes perfect sense. He does his own research and comes to his own conclusions... try it some time.
Don't get me wrong, the oil spill disaster was just that... a disaster. But I'm pretty sure you guys still fill up your cars with gasoline and that oil has to come from some where. I would rather take the risks that come with drilling at home over buying the oil from people who use the money to try and blow us up.
Let's figure out what went wrong and fix it, that's what America does.
Yes CO2 in atmosphere is necessary but too much is like not enough.
I think most of us have done our own research and have come to our own conclusions. Matt our dependence on oil is the problem which is why other forms of getting energy is important. They are part of the true fix. We've known oil was a problem since Nixon. John is against giving any subsidies to alternative energy companies yet is for giving oil huge ones. That's way to short sighted.
Ho! by the way, one can't build solar plant everywhere. It should be done in sunny area like desert. I guess there is not much private party who own large desert patch as it was not very sensible to by it before solar power projects existed.
So they have to use public lands.
Thank you. It is good to see another person who hasn't been brainwashed by the liberal media and public school system this country has forced down our throats for so long. No use in telling them about Common Sense by Thomas Paine. I doubt they know who he is. Everybody has forgotten the great people who envisioned and contributed to the development of the United States of America. Following the guidelines laid out by them (some of us know these as the US Constitution, but that document is widely forgotten and ignored today), we were able to grow our country from birth in 1776 (if you count the birth of the US as when the Constitution was made then 1788) to the most powerful nation in the world with the rest of the world depending on us by the end of WWI. Through capitalism and laisez faire, we experienced the economic boom of the Roaring Twenties with unemployment as low as 1.8%. Then, after the FED decided to stray from laisez faire and pump up regulations on Wall Street, the stock market crashed. We abandoned capitalism and freedom and elected the dictator Franklin D. Roosevelt. With his "godly" New Deal programs, we sunk deeper into the Depression at times. Through all his New Deal programs, unemployment dropped only to 11.9%. Certainly not the "amazing" recovery project our liberal school system makes us believe. It wasn't until the abandonment of these New Deal programs and our entry into WWII that we finally rose from the Great Depression. A book EVERY American should read is "A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus' Great Discovery to the War on Terror" by Larry Schweikart. It debunks several myths our liberal media and school system have forced us to believe about our history. Stop watching only CNN or MSNBC. Open up and give Fox News a watch (I watch all 3 of these equally) and don't immediately say "bah this is just redneck garbage" because it's not. I'm not saying all of it is true, because it isn't all true. No station reports everything 100% true. It's the media. They're trying to make money. But there are some REALLY great and informative things you can learn from it. It's time we stopped ignoring our Founding Fathers who created this great nation. We need to revisit their beliefs, look at their writings, and learn them, because the further and further we move from what our Founding Fathers planned, the worse and worse we get (I'm not saying things were better in the 1800s than now because they weren't haha. I'm simply saying that we would progress MUCH further faster if we simply stayed to their beliefs.) These guys weren't just some random crazies with crazy beliefs. They were some of the smartest people in history who developed a political and economic system that has been proven to work better than any other (look at socialist Europe- their economies are worse off than our's, all the communist countries like Russia and Cuba- their economies suffered terribly, facist Italy- the people were tortured and suffered). So stop saying JohnR is a complete idiot, because he just might know what he's talking about. Also, there's no reason why you can't be capitalist and laisez faire and want alternative and cleaner resources as well. Unlike the liberal media tries to make you believe, these are not opposite beliefs. We as consumers have more power than any government can ever have. These big businesses rely on us for money, and if we show them we want something else, they will make it happen (given that the government is not placing heavy taxes and other blocks).
Squiems: Yes, it is true that many of our Founding Fathers weren't religious. But they still wanted our country to be based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. I'm not saying that we should all be Christians or Jews, because everybody has the right to their own religions. But I, and many many others including atheists, believe our country should stick to its Judeo-Christian base in laws. Also, not all the Founding Fathers were in favor of slavery. They believed in the equality of all men. Also, most of them saw it as detrimental to the economy because of the nation's (especially the South's) dependence on slavery. However, because they didn't want to immediately break the nation's economy, they allowed it to go on and steadily ease the dependence on slavery and eventually abolish it. Also, it isn't just far-right people who like Glenn Beck. He's a pretty smart guy who I think you should try giving a chance. Also, I find you saying that liking Glenn Beck is "ridiculous and absurd" is quite closed-minded and ignorant. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It's what democracy is based on. So, it sounds to me like you are pretty communistic. If people like Glenn Beck, then they have every right to enjoy him, just like you have every right to watch CNN or MSNBC.
Agent is correct in many ways.
I am politically, conservative. That said, I am obviously no tree hugging hippie and normally don't give a crap about the environment. In the case of BP I do care. I value people far above animals, but senseless killing of animals is pointless.
Oil is not a terribly large concern to me typically, but being a nerd, and having common sense that oil is not endless, I am all for so-called green techs. I don't really care so much about their environmental impact as their long term value. If the human race ever wants to become spacefaring and make it off the ground, solar and nuclear (fusion primarily) energy sources are critical.
Renewable energy is nice. Why? Not because its good for the furry little animals in the forest, but because they require no input of resources to continue running (aside from maintenance).
As far as I'm concerned, the environment isn't a worthwhile justification for anything. Honestly, there is a reason that few people drive hybrids. They are too expensive. Drop the cost, and I'll gladly buy one. Heck, I'd even go full electro if it was cheap. The majority of America behaves this way, so if you want to protect the environment, find a way to protect people's pocketbooks at the same time or its never going to work.
Sure, I like my cat. I like my dog, but I'm no environmentalist. I'm no liberal. I'm vehemently against Obama's healthcare system, and yet, for some odd reason, I like renewable energy. I'm no oddity. Anyone with a brain can figure out why in the long run its better, but the media (along with far too many other things) have become way too political.
Its hard to be objective, but the best way to do this is to go back and read what the founding fathers said. For my AP government class, the summer assignment is to read and analyze the farewell address of Washington. There are things in there he warned us against. The violation of some of these were inevitable (treaties and whatnot due to world wars and nukes that can traverse the globe in hours rather than ships that took months), but how political we've become is just stupid. Any idea that is remotely associated with politics gets slammed into the ground by the other side by default. This happens on MSNBC, CNN, AND Fox. They all do it. The left thinks that the right is a bunch of redneck idiots that have no foresight. The right thinks the left is a bunch of idiots period. So before the left calls me a narrow minded fool, I'm going to say that I have some friends that are definitely liberal. I also have friends that are definitely conservative. Because of my personality and how I do way more research into this than any of my friends, I play the devil's advocate constantly. I know more about the opposing side than most people know about their own. For this reason, in debates, I grind everyone else into dust. Now, don't go thinking that my friends are idiots. My friends are in the top 10% and all have near perfect GPA's. One of my best friends will be our val. Its this knowledge that let's me even win against my obviously conservative friends with whom I share my actual beliefs in debates. I know what I'm talking about typically. I claim to be no expert, but I would say that I know far more about each side than the majority of the people on either.
John: I side with you politically, and I still don't think you know what you are talking about. I can't stand liberal morons, but I also can't stand conservative people who make the rest of us look bad.
If you were serious about alternative energy wouldn't you first lease a few hundred acres of desert for free to companies doing solar?
Why is it the only thing politicians talk about is cap and trade that won't actually change anything just make the rich and powerful more rich and more powerful. I think I just answered my own question. If you were oil rich you're probably smart enough to get a piece of the cap and trade exchange make money off of each side of the equation. And buy all the politicians you need to make it happen.
For the beck haters you should look into crime inc. He made a nice case of how this works. You might be surprised at who is going to get a piece of that huge pie.
People are trying to say that only in capitalism is corruption, greed and oil spills. There is more greed and corruption in socialism and communism. In capitalism you take your money somewhere else. When the government is in bed with business you take what they give you and say thank you very much sir.
Remember it was the Republicans for eight years who set this up maybe. And maybe President Obama and Stephen Shu have not got to that with all the catch up that needs to be done after eight of do nothing for the Nation. I'm sure it will be looked into and adjusted. Also you just can't give away our public lands for nothing but one. This President belives in Science....