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BBC Fall For Georgetown’s 100% Renewable Con

December 21, 2018

By Paul Homewood

h/t Trevor Shurmer

 

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-46628832/the-texas-town-running-on-renewables

 

Trevor sent me this BBC link, and asked how it was possible.

My first reaction was that it was the usual scam we see here, when green companies claim they are supplying only renewable energy to their customers. In reality, they only buy enough renewable energy on the market over the year to cover their sales. However, when there is not enough renewable electricity available, they resort to conventional sources, as long as these can be netted off in total.

As it turns out, my first instinct was correct, as Forbes reported this week:

 

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Claims of 100% renewable power in Georgetown, Texas don’t add up, but have cost consumers there millions of dollars.Getty

The City of Georgetown, Texas, and its mayor, Dale Ross, have become known internationally over the past couple of years due to the city’s claim that its municipal electricity utility uses 100% renewable energy.

But as recent developments show, Georgetown’s proverbial 15 minutes of fame came at great cost to taxpayers and electricity ratepayers. Mayor Ross can get on television. But can he fix a pothole?

Georgetown, home to about 71,000 people, is 25 miles north of Austin, Texas.

Praised by former Vice President Al Gore and featured on a popular German television program, Mayor Ross introduced Gore in 2017 at a renewable energy conference held in Georgetown for the second time. Ross appeared with Gore earlier that year at a renewable energy convention in Las Vegas. Ross, a self-described “conservative Republican” has also appeared in environmental documentaries through which he estimates he’s been seen by more than 500 million people around the world.

Politicians contend with many challenges. Foremost is getting elected. Winning votes is often a process of making promises and, once in office, keeping promises.

Yet there is a multitude of things that may distract an elected official from attending to local voters’ concerns. Unelected staff may have their own agendas that they seek to impose upon the elected officials for whom they ostensibly work. Outside special interests may appeal to them. Popular issues that have little or nothing to do with their office may command their attention—for instance, city councilmembers passing foreign policy resolutions or environmental ordinances that aren’t within their scope of responsibility.

In the City of Georgetown’s case, the distraction from the basic services came in the form of a virtue signaling energy policy cloaked in the guise of responsible fiscal policy.

First, some background about Texas’ electricity market. In 2002, the Texas electricity market moved from a heavily regulated system to a market based system. Most electric customers, except for El Paso and parts of the Panhandle and East Texas, can choose their energy supplier. As a result, millions of consumers have shopped for lower prices, and Texans pay less for the electricity they use than the national average. There are exceptions though: consumers served by electric cooperatives and municipal utilities can’t choose their electric providers.

Residents of Georgetown are captive to the city’s municipal electric utility, with Georgetown Utility Systems providing electricity, water, sewer, and garbage services. As a result, what consumers pay for these services isn’t simply a matter of supply and demand—public policy decisions also factor heavily.

Enter Mayor Ross and Georgetown’s 100% renewable electricity policy.

In justifying making his city 100% renewable (it’s really not, but more on that later), Ross has said, “This is a fact-based decision we made in Georgetown, and first and foremost it was an economic decision…” Ross went on to tout to the German television show, “…we are paying the same amount per kilowatt hour in year one than we are in year 25 with no cost escalation, so that meets the objective of cost certainty. And then in terms of regulatory risk — the knuckleheads in D.C. — what’s there to regulate with wind and solar? It’s clean energy. So this as the perfect solution for the citizens we were elected to serve.”

But there are two big problems with Ross’ statements.

First, Georgetown just announced that it is renegotiating its wind and solar energy contracts after energy costs came in about $23.1 million over budget in 2016 and 2017. This year, the city—meaning the city’s taxpayers—paid $8.6 million more for electricity than expected due to falling electricity prices. The city made up $1.8 million of the shortfall by not spending as much as budgeted on investments in electric infrastructure. So much for getting a good deal for the taxpayer.

Second, wind and solar aren’t without risk from government policy, regulatory or otherwise. In fact, a huge part of the renewable market is entirely artificial—propped up by government subsidies and mandates as well as policies that allow periodic renewable power sources to send electricity to the grid whenever they produce it while the cost of maintaining the grid’s reliability are levied upon others: consumers and reliable baseload generators that pay for fuel in exchange for being able to produce power whenever it’s needed.

Ross went on to boast to the German television crew that, “I make decisions based on facts… unlike the president,” noting that “It was a huge mistake to withdraw from the Paris climate accords…”

Meanwhile, Paris has suffered from weeks of violent unrest, initially triggered by anger over high fuel prices about to be made more unaffordable by a proposed climate change tax of 25 cents per gallon, since rescinded by French President Macron.

As for Georgetown’s claim of 100% renewable electricity, Charles McConnell, executive director of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University, told the Austin American-Statesman in 2017, “It’s not kind of misleading, it’s very misleading, and it is for political gain.”

Bill Peacock, the Vice President for Research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (and a colleague of the author), told the Austin American-Statesman last week that what Georgetown did to make the 100% renewable claim “…was (to buy) more electricity than they could use almost any day of the year.” The city’s policymakers had to buy far more wind and solar energy because those sources are so unreliable. For instance, on days with high electric demand with little wind generation, the city may fall short of power, but, because it’s hooked up to the larger Texas grid, reliable power produced by natural gas, coal or even nuclear plants fill the gap and keep the lights on.

The flip side of 100% renewable claim is that on low demand days with plenty of wind, Georgetown’s contracted wind and solar energy suppliers generate a surplus, selling that power at very low cost into the larger Texas market.

As Peacock observed of the practice of trading electricity on the market, “They knew they would have to buy this and sell it, and that’s not the way most people work. It’s more evidence they are wanting to portray themselves as a green city rather than doing something for their consumers.”

As of today, residents of Georgetown who aren’t pleased with paying more for their electricity for the privilege of making the dubious claim to 100% renewable power have three options: vote in a new set of elected officials who promise to focus on the basics of local governance, convince the legislature to end the electric monopoly extended to municipal government, or move out of town.

Chuck DeVore is Vice President of National Initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He was a California Assemblyman and is a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Retired Reserve.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckdevore/2018/12/17/texas-taxpayers-pay-for-political-virtue-signaling-with-costly-renewable-energy/#725302046a69

 

Some of you more observant readers may have noticed cars driving around Georgetown on the video. Although these are petrol/diesel powered, the BBC apparently has not worked out that this also counts as “energy”!

29 Comments
  1. December 21, 2018 11:08 am

    It’s also covered here:
    https://dailycaller.com/2018/12/18/texas-city-al-gore-inconvenient/

    The BBC will print any propaganda without looking into the details (or even without thinking whether it could possibly be correct). Anybody with any intelligence knows the BBC headline is an example of fake news.

  2. December 21, 2018 11:13 am

    As soon as you see ‘100% renewable’ watch for the smoke and mirrors.

    • December 21, 2018 11:18 am

      And hold onto your wallet.

    • December 21, 2018 12:00 pm

      Do renewables make smoke? Oh, wait. The smoke is from burning birds over the solar panel fields.

  3. Athelstan permalink
    December 21, 2018 11:21 am

    100% it is, 100% beeb BS.

  4. Richard Woollaston permalink
    December 21, 2018 11:25 am

    Great rebuttal of the propaganda. On a linked matter, I’m still trying to figure out how my electricity supplier can substantiate its claim of supplying me with 100% wind energy (not that it’s the reason I use them – they were simply the cheapest at the time!)

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 21, 2018 12:04 pm

      I know of no better explanation than this:

      Follow the subtitles if you don’t speak Dutch. It’s hilarious and educational at the same time. Now if only the BBC would show comedy like that…

      • Hugh Sharman permalink
        December 21, 2018 12:31 pm

        Super! Yes hilarious!
        Thanks,
        Hugh

      • Richard Woollaston permalink
        December 21, 2018 1:17 pm

        Brilliant!

      • Joe Public permalink
        December 21, 2018 5:46 pm

        Awkward for the Greenies, and, those dumb politicians.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 21, 2018 1:45 pm

      I am with you, Richard. Outfoxthemarket promise 100% but came out the cheapest so I signed up not caring whether the promise was true or not. They are dicking around with the direct debits to raise it now and then lower it in the summer. What I can’t get them to understand is that might electricity use is stable all year round as there is no heating involved.

    • markl permalink
      December 22, 2018 1:47 am

      Thanks! This video is a keeper and deserves to go viral.

  5. sean2829 permalink
    December 21, 2018 11:59 am

    $8.6 million shortfall divided by 75,000 residents is $114/resident. Assume 3 people per household and you have $342 loss per household that must be covered when fossil fuel prices are low. Consider also that Texas is one of the best places for wind and has a lot of cloud free dry days in the western part of the state for solar. Someone recently did an analysis on the possibility of 100% renewable power in the state and showed while it was possible, it would not be economically feasible as the Georgetown mayor is discovering. He concluded if you can’t make 100% renewables work in Texas, it won’t be possible anywhere.

  6. December 21, 2018 12:49 pm

    It’s no only extra direct costs that are a problem, but also the fall in tax income.
    There is no point in burning excess fossil fuels
    but every time you cut fossil fuel use, you make your community POORER
    cos overtime, you buy them money flows into the tax-pool
    Since there are both retail taxes and extraction taxes.
    Imagine Arab middle eastern economies if you took out those fossil fuel taxes.

  7. Ian Wilson permalink
    December 21, 2018 1:08 pm

    Somewhat off topic, apropos BBC impartiality or lack of it, last Sunday they gave a 15 minute plug for Extinction Rebellion, repeating it later in the day, complete with flattering biography of the female leading light. No mention of how blocking streets and bridges could cause harm like allowing people to die when ambulances or fire engines are snarled in traffic.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      December 21, 2018 2:15 pm

      I saw that, I note from the pictures, the vast amount of oil derived products being used by the protesters – Phones, cameras, glasses, hats, clothes, signs, bicycles, shoes, megaphones, backpacks, polyester animal suits, plastic bags, pushchairs, (*I love the plastic breathing tube @1:12*), zip fasteners, neoprene cushions, plastic ties for signs, acrylic paints, even their bra & knicker elastic is made from oil….

      Then they went home, mainly by fossil fuelled transport, to homes built & powered by fossil fuels. What hypocrites .

      • Sheri permalink
        December 22, 2018 2:41 am

        Sadly, I have begun to fear it’s not hypocrisy but abject, uncurable stupidity.

    • mikewaite permalink
      December 21, 2018 7:48 pm

      By way of gratitude members of this group have now chained themselves to BBC studio railings
      https://www.aol.co.uk/news/2018/12/21/climate-change-activists-protest-outside-bbc-sites-across-the-co/
      If you look carefully at the photo you will notice that one of the protesters is holding a baby against the fence. So have the social services, usually so keen to take children from their parents stepped in to protect this vulnerable infant ? Have they heck. The police officers there – are they protecting the child ? No, they are deliberately looking the other way.
      These people know that no action that they take , even jeopardising the vulnerable children that society should protect, will ever be prevented or criticised.

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    December 21, 2018 1:47 pm

    Just goes to show that the Republican party still has a lot of vermin that needs exterminating to get back to what the party should be standing for.

  9. Broadlands permalink
    December 21, 2018 2:33 pm

    There is nothing “renewable” about solar panels or a wind turbine. Both are replaceable, if repairable, as they age. Neither is easily disposable and some leave toxic waste.

    And the highly touted “renewable” biofuels leave a tailpipe exhaust that is CO2 and water…

    “Although the burning of biodiesel produces carbon dioxide emissions similar to those from ordinary fossil fuels, the plant feedstock used in the production absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when it grows. … After the biomass is converted into biodiesel and burned as fuel the energy and carbon is released again.”

    And again, and again…leading to NO net reduction in carbon emissions?

    • Athelstan permalink
      December 21, 2018 5:42 pm

      biofuels

      Impoverish and diminish the ability of already poor people to purchase simple comestibles, ie grain, what sort of unconscionable numpty advocates growing good food crops to waste by burning in autovehicular engines?

      the morons are the greens are the misanthropists defined.

      • Jon Scott permalink
        December 22, 2018 12:46 pm

        What I find so incredible is that people are being cheated on every level and STILL they defend this nonsense!

      • Jon Scott permalink
        December 22, 2018 12:50 pm

        And the insanity of biofuels… shipping wood pellets from the US in diesel powered ships as well as the fact they cannot and do not care about the maths of burn in one day…vs grow for 30 years and call it carbon neutral. These people deserve all they get but I do not want them dragging me down as well!

  10. Richard Bell permalink
    December 22, 2018 1:08 am

    I am so glad you caught this, I watched it on the BBC news here in California and just DID NOT BELIEVE A WORD ……. What a con trick, and at what cost ???

  11. Richard Bell permalink
    December 22, 2018 1:20 am

    BUT WAIT THERS MORE ……….. buy / sell / buy / sell , what if they were cut out of the Texas electricity power network, without that back up they would be up a creek without a paddle …. What a sham !!!

    • Sheri permalink
      December 22, 2018 2:43 am

      The 100% renewable energy is virtually 100% a LIE in every case and I point that out every time. IF there is a grid connection, IT IS NOT 100% RENEWABLE. PERIOD.

  12. Stonyground permalink
    December 22, 2018 5:23 pm

    I found the Dutch TV show very interesting. It provides an interesting window into the minds of people who think that you can reduce so called carbon emissions to almost zero, not by doing anything to actually reduce them but by playing a pointless game that is designed to fiddle the numbers. It is a good job that we don’t actually have a problem since the solution is actually not to do anything to solve it but to just play make believe.

  13. December 24, 2018 11:24 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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