Green Raw Deal? Cities and states scale back ‘green’ ambitions as costs to taxpayers rise

By Michael Bastasch

Democrats’ Green New Deal legislation envisions a U.S that eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions through a massive expansion of government control, which includes a green grid, electrified mass transit and high-speed rail.

However, cities and states actually trying to implement these policies are often finding it difficult to overcome political and economic realities.

In the past year, for example, Washington state voters rejected — for a second time — a proposal to tax carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon tax opponents successfully framed the proposal as an energy tax that would raise prices and do nothing for future global warming. The tax was backed by Democrats, like Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also mulling a 2020 presidential run.

Inslee, who styles himself as the Democratic “climate candidate,” has also failed to push major climate policies through the legislature and using his own executive authority.

“It shows you how ineffective he’s been even in a state like Washington,” Todd Myers, environmental policy director at the Washington Policy Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a recent interview.

“We’re doing it whether people want it or not,” Myers said of Inslee’s attempts to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Inslee-backed carbon tax would have cost households an extra $230 per year in 2020, according to the Washington Policy Center. Energy bills, including gasoline prices, will increase because of the tax.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats, recently introduced highly-anticipated resolutions for a Green New Deal. Those bills called for the entire U.S. to be powered by “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” within 10 years.

The bill also calls for “dramatically expanding and upgrading existing renewable power sources” as part of Green New Deal supporters’ climate crusade.

Even at the local level, however, efforts to decarbonize the grid are easier said than done — and not just for political reasons.

Georgetown, Texas, is one of the biggest U.S. cities to claim to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with solar and wind power. The city began to switch to solar and wind in 2012, and Republican Mayor Dale Ross quickly became a poster child for environmentalism.

The city was even featured in former Vice President Al Gore’s filmAn Inconvenient Sequel,” which was released in 2017. Gore called the city a “trailblazer” in the fight against global warming.

Georgetown’s green energy ambitions, however, have cost the city roughly $30 million over the past five years. The loss is driven by the long-term wind and solar energy contracts the city entered into, betting that fossil fueled-electricity prices would rise.

The opposite happened, and Georgetown’s municipal utility announced in late January it would increase customers’ bills about $13 a month to recover its bad bets. City officials are currently trying to renegotiate their long-term green energy contracts.

What about high-speed rail? The Green New Deal calls for investments in high-speed rail and other forms of mass transit to make airplanes, and the internal combustion engine itself, obsolete.

However, California put the brakes on its high-speed rail project that voters approved in 2008 to shuttle passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project, dubbed the “train to nowhere” by critics, was estimated to cost $77 billion to complete.

“Let’s level about the high-speed rail,” Newsom said in his State of the State address in February, announcing most of the project would be halted.

“Let’s be real, the current project as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the state would complete the small, 119-mile section of high-speed rail between Merced and Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Though, that line is not expected to be finished until 2022 at a cost of $89 million per mile.

Even electrified mass transit is proving difficult, at least in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday the city canceled its $133 million plan for an all-electric bus line through downtown.

Massive construction in downtown Albuquerque hurt local businesses, modernized bus stops were vandalized and the electric buses themselves were found to have flaws that made them unusable.

The city has sued the Chinese-owned electric vehicle manufacturer and contracted with another company for diesel buses, according to The Times.

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Image courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Sarah Swenty

10 thoughts on “Green Raw Deal? Cities and states scale back ‘green’ ambitions as costs to taxpayers rise

  1. Green New Deal same as the commie old deal

    Green S☭rew Deal

    A government incapable of even providing for safety of it’s citizens sure as heck would be incapable of redoing the entirety of Power distribution.

    And as someone below mention “EMP” would render that new power grid useless, however we wouldn’t have planes dropping out of the sky as Ocrazio will have outlawed them. EMP means
    EVERY circuit board in every electronics piece is fried. NOTHING WORKS… just like the pro political hacks.. right bernie??

  2. The Green New Deal, GND, to be implemented by 2030, appears to be an accelerated version of the wind, water, sun, (WWS) Plan by Jacobson, published in 2015, which is aiming to be implemented by 2050.

    The GND Plan is more extreme than the WWS Plan in its scope and timetable. Here are some quotes from the GND manifesto:

    – “Upgrade and/or replace every building in America”
    – “Replace every internal combustible engine vehicle”
    – “Connect every corner of America with high-speed rail”
    – “Replace all fossil energy with alternative energy sources”

    The GND want to use Electric Vehicles for storage. Wow.

    The GND would require an HVDC overlay grid (at least a $400 billion item) connected at many points to the existing HVAC grids, to ensure electricity would be near instantaneously delivered everywhere, 24/7/365, as needed.

    – The US northeast could be overcast and not windy (wind and solar would be minimal, as happens many times during the year, i.e., almost every early morning and every late afternoon/early evening), but elsewhere, such as in the Colorado region, it could be sunny and windy, enabling any excess wind and solar to be instantaneously transferred, via the overlay HVDC system, to the US northeast.

    – Tens of millions of EVs could be connected to the grid, each temporarily providing a few kWh to the grid, as needed. The EVs would recharge from the grid at other times, as needed, for driving the next day. Such an electricity reserve could provide about 50 million EVs x 10 kWh/EV/d = 500 million kWh/d = 0.5 TWh/d, less charging and discharging losses.

    – If New England were to have a 5 to 7 day wind and solar lull in winter, with snow on the panels, and a future load on the grid of 175 TWh/y, the NE shortfall (at 80% wind and solar), would be about 175 x 0.8/365 = 0.38 TWh/d, i.e., the 50 million EVs would cover that shortfall for about one day, provided other random events were absent

    – Future US generation fed to grid could be about 8000 TWh/y/365 d = 21.92 TWh/d. It appears very significant additional grid-scale storage would be required.

    The EV charging and discharging losses are not trivial.

    A Tesla model 3 has a charging/rest time loss of about 20%
    Assume 15% is due to charging
    Assume 5% is due to rest time

    An EV feeding to the grid 10 kWh would lose 10/0.85 = 11.76 kWh from its battery.
    To get that back into the battery, the EV would draw 11.76 x 1.15 = 13.53 kWh from the grid, i.e., a loss of 3.53 kWh for the grid to gain 10 kWh.

    100% RE is probably possible, which is true, because almost everything is probably possible. The key word is FEASIBLE.

    I think the world should have 75% of all its primary energy from nuclear; France has proven that feasibility for decades.

    A lot of inane nonsense discussions by lay people spread about by the mass media would be avoided and the cost would be far less than all the gymnastics required for 100% renewables.

  3. Various non-technical persons have been making estimates of the capital cost of the GND. They overlook grid-scale storage, which is the 800-lb gorilla regarding cost. Wind and solar, at 87% of electricity fed to the grid, could not even exist on the grid without such storage. Here is such an estimate. See URL and table 1.

    – The GND is estimated to cost $700 billion to $1 trillion per year for each of 12 years (2018 – 2030).
    – The public jobs program would require expenditures of $400 billion.
    – The cost of the transition to clean energy would start at $200 billion a year.

    The GND would be paid for as follows:

    – Military spending would be cut by $500 billion per year, or roughly 50 percent.
    – A carbon tax of $60 per ton would provide $360 billion per year. Households would pay most of the carbon taxes. Part of the carbon taxes would be provided to lower income households as subsidies to convert to clean energy.
    – Higher taxes on income and wealth on the wealthiest Americans. See URL


    The GND and WWS Plan, with at least 87% of their electricity supply from variable, intermittent sources (dependent on random wind and sun conditions throughout the year), grid-scale storage would be required to cover daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal variations. The grid-scale storage has to be connected at many places to the existing high voltage grids to ensure 24/7/365 electricity service, at a reliability of at least 99.98%.

    The graph shows the continuously varying wind and solar generation on the Bonneville Power Administration grid system for a 30-day period. The wind and solar outputs vary all over the place. See URL

    NOTE: Here is an article containing comments regarding grid stability and less reliability of electricity service, due to increased wind and solar on the NE grid, by the president of ISO-NE, the NE grid operator.

    Europe: It was calculated, the European power grid, with 100% renewable electricity (including 670 GW wind and 810 GW solar) and no balancing capacity, the energy storage capacity, TWh, would need to be about 1.5 times the average monthly grid load, excluding charging and discharging losses. The European grid load (electricity fed to grid) is about 3200 TWh/y, or 267 TWh/month. Storage would be about 1.5 x 267 = 400 TWh, as AC fed to grid.

    The US: After the GND Plan is fully implemented, the US power grid, with 87% renewable electricity from wind and solar and about 13% of seasonally varying balancing capacity, such as CSP and hydro, the energy storage capacity would need to be about 15% of 8000 = 1200 TWh, as AC fed to grid

  4. The GREEN NEW DEAL would be a major RAW deal for the people of the US.


    All URLs pertaining to this comment are in this article

    Here is an example of grid-scale storage for the NE power grid by about 2050. The power sources would be:

    1) About 80% wind and solar
    2) A few percent from NE hydro plants
    3) A few percent from NE wood burning power plants
    4) A few percent from municipal refuse power plants
    5) A few percent of Canadian hydro via tie-ins to nearby grids.
    6) All coal, oil, gas and nuclear plants are closed.

    The mode of operation with grid-scale storage would be:

    – All variable, intermittent wind and solar generation, plus other generation would be stored.
    – Steady electricity would be drawn from storage, based on demand.
    – The daily demand of about 125 TWh/365 = 0.342 TWh would be kept near constant by means of real-time supply and demand management.

    The below graph is based on minute-by-minute generation and demand data published by ISO-NE, the NE grid operator.

    – High outputs of wind and hydro are in excess of demand in the early months of the year; storage is built up.
    – Low outputs of wind and hydro are less than demand in the summer; storage is reduced; summer solar is nor sufficient to offset that trend.
    – High outputs of wind and hydro are in excess of demand in the later months of the year; storage is built up again.
    – The graph excludes charging and discharging losses. See URL

    Electricity entering storage would be about 9.7 TWh, as AC from high voltage grid; electricity in storage would be about 8.6 TWh as DC; electricity delivered from storage would be about 8 TWh, as AC to high voltage grid.

    Capital cost of grid-scale storage systems would be about 10 TWh x $400/TWh = $4 TRILLION, at the 2019 price of about $400/kWh, or $1 TRILLION, if the Holy Grail price of $100/kWh would be achieved in the future.

    Demand is likely to increase to about 175 TWh by 2050, an increase of 40%, due to heat pumps and electric vehicles, which means grid-scale storage would need to be at least 14 TWh.

    NOTE: The storage system would need on-demand standby generation (hydrogen or natural gas powered combined-cycle, gas-turbine, CCGT, plants) to ensure about 10 days of demand coverage during September and October, to cover:

    1) Multi-day, scheduled and unscheduled equipment and system outages
    2) Unusual multi-day weather events, such as simultaneous minimal wind and solar. See graph.


    All URLs pertaining to this comment are in this article

    This URL shows wind and solar prices per kWh would be at least 45% to 55% higher without subsidies, and they would be even higher, if the costs of other items were properly allocated to the owners of wind and solar projects.

    This URL shows about 2/3 of the financial value of a wind project is due to direct and indirect subsidies, and the other 1/3 is due to electricity sales.

    An owner of a wind and solar project, looking to shelter taxable income from other businesses, is allowed to depreciate in 6 years almost the entire cost of a wind and solar project under the IRS scheme called Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System, MARCS; the normal period for other forms of utility depreciation is about 20 years

    Then, with help of Wall Street financial wizardry from financial tax shelter advisers, such as BNEF*, JPMorgan, etc., the owner sells the project to a new owner who is allowed to depreciate almost his entire cost all over again. The loss of tax revenues to federal and state governments due to MARCS is estimated by the IRS at $266 billion for the 5-y period of 2017 – 2021. This largesse is in addition to total of direct federal and state subsidies to such projects of about $25 billion per year.

    * BNEF is Bloomberg New Energy Finance, owned by former Mayor Bloomberg of New York.

    Warren Buffett quote: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

  6. Well stated facts but our liberal legislature won’t listen. They have an agenda and they won’t be swayed from achieving it. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, good or bad, they are going to do it for they know what is best for you. Don’t believe it, just ask them. Socialism, that’s what our State is becoming.
    It’s amazing the change in the last 30 years. It’s gone from the very best independent State to a sorry dependent State. What a shame. It’s understandable why people are bailing out of here.

  7. Climate Solution Resolution 350 Vermont

    An implied Crisis to inspire government action against our Free Market system is dishonest!
    350 Vermont’s contention of climate crisis is debatable quite simply because weather has been in flux for thousands of years and our earth has survived threats far more serious than those this organization feels rise to the level of crisis. Therefore Vermont’s goal and plan to address sustainable energy may also be flawed and inappropriate if it is based on the same premise of doom and demonization.
    What some would call crisis others might call an attack on our Free Market system. Restricting the use of current fuels and infrastructure to advantage an undeveloped renewable source of energy violates the principles of our free market economic system and fair play.
    This approach of demonizing traditional fuels requires confiscation of the wealth and property of individuals to abate a questionable crisis, using implications of extreme urgency as justification.
    There is little doubt these demands of 100% renewable energy by 2030 for all people in Vermont would be devastating to our economy and the standard of living of ever Vermonter. This would cause a cumulative compounding of cost and more programs to mitigate the damage inflicted on individuals even after subsidies are put in place to ease the burden during transition.
    Enlisting a small segment of the population of any town in Vermont for a resolution that implies the people of an entire Town supports it is a misrepresentation of the will and intent of the people of said Town and our State.
    It is in fact asking all individuals of the community to promote the desires of an outside group that solicited us through a local advertisement for the purpose of training someone in our town to present this resolution at our Town meeting. Obviously with the intent of implying all voters of our Town condone these demands.
    While 350 Vermont’s goals and aspirations may be noble their eagerness to force them on us is not.
    Protecting our property and system of free market enterprise is far more important than allowing the frenzy of an overzealous group to manipulate us by force; this would weaken the fabric of our very existence.
    Let those who wish to realize these dreams and goals of their design do so in the private sector where they must compete honestly and on their own merits while not marginalizing the property or livelihood of individual Vermonters in the process.
    There is no gain in violating our Free Market principles, over reacting to a crisis that is not clearly imminent would most likely do more harm than good when pursued by force rather than the honest endeavor of fair and free competition.
    Demands for unity of purpose will not be achieved by a self-righteous posture!

  8. No need to abandon air planes. Recently one powered by solar panel took a speedy one year to circumvent the earth. How about solar panel powered trains? Oh, and autos aswell. No more costly recharging stations and thd need to generate electricity for them. Not yet sure where wind fits in with mass transportation, but I’m sure something will turn up. Just kidding folks. This makes as much sense as the Green New Deal.

  9. Imagine that the green utopia is 100% achieved in ten years. Everything is powered by electricity which in turn is powered by the sun and the water and the whatever. What happens when the power grid goes down, say by an EMP? Everywhere.

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