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Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times has published yet another anti-solar piece in the Los Angeles Times. This time, in Solar power plants burden the counties that host them, she discovers that sprawling rural counties that vote Republican would like more money from the federal government, please, and it's all the fault of Big Solar. And when a sprawling rural county that votes Republican tries to tax just the solar industry alone, solar advocates organize opposition to a Sun Tax.

P1291075The horrors!

Among other journalistic nuggets, she reports that construction workers laboring near the California-Nevada state line are more likely to spend their money in Nevada (i.e., Las Vegas) than in the middle of California's Empty Quarter. Because Joshua trees don't take ATMs.

And she indulges Republicans opposed to the Obama administration's treatment of renewable energy:

"The solar companies are the beneficiaries of huge government loans, tax credits and, most critically for me, property tax exemptions, at the expense of taxpayers," said county Supervisor John Benoit, referring to a variety of taxpayer-supported loans and grants available to large solar projects as part of the Obama administration's renewable energy initiative. "I came to the conclusion that my taxpayers need to get something back."
Republican John Benoit, shorter: If they're going to get special treats, I want a cut.

Among Benoit's recent campaign contributors: Occidental Petroleum, California Independent Petroleum Association, Chevron, Valero Energy... but no solar folk. (That information is not in Julie Cart's story. I did the research.)

Also missing from Cart's story is any sort of perspective or critical analysis. If a plant will end up with only five permanent workers, then how accurate is the county's claims of wear and tear on its roads and increased emergency room services?

Julie Cart has been assigned to the California desert solar beat for several years. Anyone whining about Big Solar finds her writing a sympathetic story.

Her reporting that Taxpayers, ratepayers will fund solar plants was widely criticized as getting the facts wrong, very wrong.

In Environmentalists feeling burned by rush to build big solar projects, every single small desert-tortoise-loving green group whines that the Sierra Club and other big green groups think stopping climate change is more important than saving the habitat of the desert tortoise.

In Sacrificing the desert to save the earth, she decides that a big plant taking up six square miles of California desert constitutes a sacrifice of the entire region, never mind the 50 million acres of public lands available to fossil fuel developers, never mind the relatively small footprints of all of the solar projects put together, and never mind the vast desert habitat being protected from solar development.

Land speculators see silver lining in solar projects bemoans the fact that some people are getting rich selling virtually worthless pieces of private land to solar developers. Other pieces by the same reporter bemoan the use of public land for solar development.

The Los Angeles Times is effectively the national paper of record for the California desert. I've searched the Los Angeles Times site for all 170 stories written by her (many on unrelated topics) and reviewed them all. All of her solar stories portray the solar industry in a bad light. As only one example, today's story could - but doesn't - note the negative impacts of climate change on Riverside and Inyo counties, the health burdens of relying on existing dirty energy, whether Inyo County's worries about the impact of Big Solar on its roads is overblown, whether Riverside County Supervisor Benoit is motivated by Big Oil contributions when he proposes a solar tax (see my research above), and many other angles. The Times has other good reporters who cover environmental and climate issues, but it's woefully understaffed.

The Los Angeles Times in a nutshell: no appetite for covering a dramatically warmer world in this century, but front page headlines for the impact of Big Solar on Inyo County's tax revenues.

Update 11/26/2012: I deleted a tweet and added material in italics.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 10:04 AM PST.

Also republished by Kosowatt.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sun Tax (19+ / 0-)

    I thought Republicans never met a tax they liked? Benoit, especially, seems like a bit of a whiner:

    "These guys play hardball." A swarm of solar supporters flooded the room — bused in and wearing matching "No Sun Tax" T-shirts and caps.
    Yeah, calling Benoit out his new tax, or as he calls it a "franchise fee", is playing "hardball".
  •  So does anyone rebut this nonsense (25+ / 0-)

    outside of the LTE section?  I'm surprised she isn't whining that, since the sun will run out of fuel in 4.5 billion years, obviously any money spent on infrastructure now will eventually be completely wasted.

    Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

    by CJB on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 10:42:58 AM PST

  •  I have to admit that I am sympathetic--actually, (20+ / 0-)

    VERY sympathetic--to concerns regarding the California desert tortoise and I am not prone to overlooking destruction of their habitat at all.

    As one that worked for an international environmental group including on a project located in the Mojave, there ARE very serious issues that need to be addressed and these include indigenous sacred sites and critical habitat.

    I don't know how it is now, but many of the large green groups really have little, if any, interest in indigenous issues at the leadership level. That was true for many decades. We used to call these groups soft green groups because their focus was generally on one issue v. the big picture.

    While there may be some species that can take a lot of interruption of critical habitat--though I can't think of one, offhand--the tortoise is not one of them. ln fairness, however, I must add that BLM road/use policies don't help that problem.

    So, while overall you may be correct about the LA Times writer, I would have to say that I would not agree when it comes to the second article you cite.

    Furthermore, what I found when coordinating with Sierra Club is that it is a VERY top-down organization and why I am not a member even today. NRDC is even worse.

    The challenge for environmental groups when dealing with issues like this, imho, is getting knowledgeable area residents involved from the get go and LISTENING to them and keeping them involved every step of the way. Many of them are extremely knowledgeable on their area's biology and unique issues. This is also true with Indigenous groups who have enormous historical 'institutional' memory about these areas. Environmental groups do themselves, and certainly the public, no good if they run roughshod over the local population and in this way many bad decisions are made.

    When working at the top of an organization and not in the field (and I have done both), one can become very isolated and thinking can become very linear and non-inclusive. When one walks in their shoes, a very different view is presented.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 10:43:30 AM PST

    •  Same problem we have here in the Delta. (6+ / 0-)

      According to the government and the big environmental groups, the people who live here know nothing.  And ironically in our case, we get the blame for the destruction caused by the State and Federal Water projects that have destroyed the Delta.

      "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

      by Going the Distance on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 11:04:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am sorry that happened or remains happening. I (3+ / 0-)

        worked for an org that insisted on local leadership on projects and I still believe that to be the BEST and most effective and inclusive means of dealing with issues. They didn't start that way, btw, but learned along the way from their mistakes.

        The org had one of the most effective and brilliant organizers on toxics EVER. Legally trained, but not practicing law, he was THE BEST organizer I have ever personally seen. And believe me, he was tough as nails and challenging as could be. He was highly respected by the communities he worked with because he put them in the leadership position and helped them with campaigns and funding to make them successful. It's really bottom up horizontal organizing and not something we see a lot in other groups. Top-down organizing, which is what I see in SC and many other groups develops the agenda then moves forward v. developing the agenda WITH local peoples.

        Big difference.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 11:18:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm (6+ / 0-)

      Cart contradicts herself at the end RL's linked article which you reference.  Her "concern" here is completely devoid of facts.

      On the issue of large environmental groups vs. local groups and field work: My experience with Sierra Club has been the opposite. I recently participated in an invasive plant removal project with Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter and I plan to participate in Verde River water monitoring in two weeks.  Sierra Club in AZ is constantly doing local service projects.

    •  DOI has done a lot re the tortoise (8+ / 0-)

      there are large zones deemed too environmentally sensitive, and developers need to buy offsetting habitat. They've redrawn the "off limits" zones to make them bigger.

      But yes, there is a problem when one-issue folk are given the Los Angeles Times as a mouthpiece and there is no corresponding big picture coverage.

      Congress can't redo the laws of physics. Do the math. @RL_Miller

      by RLMiller on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 12:10:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Requesting permission to republish in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the Orange Juice Blog, ma'am!  I think that this deserves more eyeballs.

        Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

        "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
        -- Saul Alinsky

        by Seneca Doane on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 02:47:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  DOI did exactly zero on the project I was working (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        on in the 90s (through 97), but USGS biologists did.

        The problem with USFWS (under DOI) is that sometimes they do okay and sometimes they don't. We're dealing with an issue under their jurisdiction here (arroyo toad) and while their habitat designation was good, it certainly doesn't look like their ultimate defense, under their own laws, will be. We'll see. We and others are prepared to sue if necessary.

        I have learned, over many years, that while there are good people in the agency, there are also bad people. The agency, as you know, has a very checkered history.


        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:25:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  However, what needs to be included in that picture (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, Catskill Julie

      is the impact of climate change upon the desert tortoise. Biologists seem to think that the impact of this project can be mitigated. There's not much to be done to mitigate the impact of climate change-induced drought, however.
      It's also a little odd that you're calling out the Sierra Club here. They've been very vocal advocates on behalf of the desert tortoise here. That you're wrong as far as that goes makes me question your sources of information, which is not to say I question your positive intent.

      •  They have been recently, but that doesn't go back (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to my years of work. And they didn't work with Indigenous peoples, either, at that time.

        Maybe they are better now.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:22:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Your point is well taken and the issue can (0+ / 0-)

        be argued both ways.

        Biologists are not all alike. Project biologists typically say everything (is always) mitigable, and that is simply NOT true. If they are getting paid by a project proponent, I don't trust their work unless it is, in fact, borne out by independent biologists whose expertise is the species in question.

        The project I was working on had the best of the best DT habitat in the Ward Valley area. Almost no upper respiratory disease, either. Yet, DOI and the project proponents saw no problem with parking radioactive waste out there and digging all over the desert. The biologists were paid by the proponent.

        Finally, when indie biologists were brought in (experts on the DT) and good USGS experts brought in (who were NOT otherwise working on any aspect of the project), things got cleared up. It took a very, very long time but we won.

        I have reviewed hundreds of EIRs and EISs and I have to say that a lot of the data can and should be questioned and IMHO, consultants should NEVER be paid for or contracted by the company that stands to make money. There is just an inherent conflict in that particular process that shows up time and time again.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:33:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Taxes are the greatest threat to mankind (10+ / 0-)

    Believe that, and you'll have no trouble seeing up as down and similar irrationalities.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 10:53:04 AM PST

  •  Well put (11+ / 0-)
    Republican John Benoit, shorter: If they're going to get special treats, I want a cut.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 11:01:51 AM PST

  •  Sunlight is diverse (4+ / 0-)

    There is no 'economy of scale' in solar radiation.  the solar energy that strikes the earth is about 946 watts per hour per square meter (perpendicular to the rays).  There is NO place on earth where it is more than that -- it's the same on your house top as it is in the desert.  So building a large solar power plant doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a power company.
    What seems to make sense is a distributed collector array -- solar panels on every roof with battery storage in every garage -- and service contracts to maintain the equipment for the home-owner.  I don't know why power companies haven't picked up on what amounts to an almost free source of revenue (service contracts).  

    •  Actually (4+ / 0-)

      there are significan economies of scale in the construction and permitting, which is why many (but not all) developers look to do utility scale solar.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 11:21:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Absent a program that requires businesses and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomNonviolence, Calamity Jean

      homes to put solar on roofs, there is a great deal of cost associated with selecting, purchasing, contracting and installation that is lower for large scale projects.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 01:21:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Different method of collection (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, RLMiller

      This isn't passive collection via PV panels.  The plants out in the desert are massive things that concentrate sunlight to create steam to turn turbines.

      But I am with you -- if we covered even 1/10 of rooftops in this country with PV panels, we'd have all the energy we need for everything.

      More solar energy hits the surface of this planet on any given day than will be burned in the entire history of all fossil fuels combined.  Why are we not making more of an effort to harvest it?

    •  Deserts are good places to put solar collectors (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, SolarGuy, JeffW, jam
      The solar energy that strikes the earth is about 946 watts per hour per square meter (perpendicular to the rays).  There is NO place on earth where it is more than that -- it's the same on your house top as it is in the desert.
      because they tend to be cloudless and to not have interfering structures to cast unwanted shadows.  Lots of places get less than "about 946 watts per hour per square meter" because of clouds.

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:29:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  his comment doesn't make much sense (0+ / 0-)

        either from a DNI point of view or an economy of scale POV.

        Javelin, Jockey details, all posts, discontinue

        by jam on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 01:28:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Deserts are good places to put solar collectors (0+ / 0-)

        Remotely sited solar loses as much or more in transmission as is gained by slightly higher insolation.  Transmission is costly ($10 + million/mile), highly inefficient and slow to permit and build.  The use of sulfur hexafluoride or SF6 in power transformers and circuit breakers contributes to GHG emissions as does digging up highly calcified (and carbon sequestering) desert soils.   We don't have time to repeat the same old energy mistakes folks.  Distributed point of use solar is cheaper, faster and smarter.  More at:


  •  The LA Times used to be a good newspaper. (9+ / 0-)

    It's gone totally downhill since the Chicago Tribune bought it.

  •  Yeah, you've caught the LA Times in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, Calamity Jean

    Hypocritical coverage of solar projects.  On the other hand, there's so few pages left in the paper, it's becoming more of a broad sheet rather than a big city paper (I exaggerate but ads are WAY down).

    Good post!

    Green is good:

    by bogmanoc on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 12:25:03 PM PST

  •  Well, put me down as someone who thinks (6+ / 0-)

    small scale rooftop (etc.) solar should be fast-tracked ahead of behemoth centralized solar projects that benefit big utility companies, Wall Street, and don't produce much gain for the little guy, school districts, cash-strapped municipalities and don't produce that many long-term jobs.

    I'm not saying they should not be investing in the technology, I'd just like the small scale stuff to get a head start.
    There's no reason big oil/coal and giant utilities can't go out and explore big solar without much gov. help. They have plenty of wealth.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 12:25:19 PM PST

    •  we're doing both (3+ / 0-)

      they proceed along different paths.

      Rooftop solar is great for homeowners, but we need utility scale solar for a lot of buildings other than homes - e.g., offices, condominiums/apartments, commercial space, etc.

      Congress can't redo the laws of physics. Do the math. @RL_Miller

      by RLMiller on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 12:35:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know Universities would deeply benefit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, SolarMom

        from solar roof panels. The energy costs are sky high and even though they tend to use fluorescent lights, these things are kept on from like 8am-10pm (or longer) in what amount to miniature towns worth of campuses.

        Every time I go to work, I think, "Why the Hell don't we have solar panels on our roofs?"

        The electricity expenses at the schools are astronomical. And a lot of the Universities are in areas which can handle solar just fine in California. So literally, there's no reason for this that I can see. It's a great starting place, IMHO.

        •  All 5 high schools in our district put in solar (6+ / 0-)

          I assume it was a grant, as all of them built structures over the parking lots rather than rooftop solar. District newsletters mentioned the energy savings they would receive. I know of several other Northern California high schools oing the same (and read about one who was ripped off by a fly by night solar contractor).

          Leasing the panels is a low- cost way to go as well, but our district paid for them with new bonds (which need a 55% majority to pass, as opposed to any taxes which need 2/3.) bonds must be spent on infrastructure, not operating costs.

          •  That's excellent! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RLMiller, madhaus, KenBee

            Not the being ripped off bit, of course, but that there is some motion on this issue because it seems like a very obvious, positive solution. I never thought about the issue of leasing. Well, it would be approved by some University committee -- I can't say I know which other than some budgetary committee or another -- but if someone did the math and showed savings, the school's so cash-strapped, no doubt they'd go for it since energy expenses are a fortune as is. I'm not personally in a position to do that, mind you.

            •  If they use bonds, they can't lease (4+ / 0-)

              And it's far easier to pass a California school bond than a property tax.  The thing is, the way I saw the lease payments, you end up paying the solar company less than you pay the utility.  I leased my solar panels but prepaid the entire 20 year lease up front, which was cheaper than buying them. Another advantage of leasing is the tax credits are taken by the solar company and they apply them directly to your lease cost up front.  That way you don't have to wait to,get the credit.  Works the same way when you lease an EV.

              I would imagine the economics are different with a universities than homeowners putting in solar. Maybe I should talk to someone from the high school district and diary their solar project.  The parking lot structures are good for another thing, the cars don't bake in the sun.

          •  Maybe the roofs weren't strong enough (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            I assume it was a grant, as all of them built structures over the parking lots rather than rooftop solar.
            to hold a large number of panels.  Each panel is only a few pounds, but for hundreds of panels it adds up.  Putting solar panels on the roofs would probably have required rebuilding the roofs.  

            Renewable energy brings national global security.     

            by Calamity Jean on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:34:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, "rooftop" is just a generic description (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW, madhaus

              for small scale. I think covering parking lots, etc. is a great idea.
              It sounds like we're beginning to get solar on schools. This should be happening nationwide, for schools, hospitals, airports, municipal buildings, etc. As we build up volume on these structures with a long term amortization framework, the price will come down and we can more easily get residential and commercial solarized.
              Ultimately, the savings need to be passed onto the school district, municipality, homeowner, "little guy".

              You can't make this stuff up.

              by David54 on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:59:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Every sunny roof should (eventually) have (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                madhaus, David54, JeffW

                solar panels.  Some day I hope that not having PV panels on your roof will be thought unpatriotic and stupid.  

                Renewable energy brings national global security.     

                by Calamity Jean on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:26:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  They're just getting started on the technology, (0+ / 0-)

                  They're working on pv shingles, and they may have a PV "paint" someday.
                  There's also solar water heating, which is relatively old, but will see more improvements in technology, and then there's also the passive solar design revolution, and the coupling of all of that with small scale geo-thermal.
                  Consider the technological trajectory of auto design. We're somewhere in the "Model T" phase with solar power.

                  There are technologies we haven't even imagined yet, as well.

                  You can't make this stuff up.

                  by David54 on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:09:40 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What we already have is good enough to (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    We're somewhere in the "Model T" phase with solar power.

                    There are technologies we haven't even imagined yet, as well.    

                    save the world, if it's put to use soon enough.  And getting started on using it will motivate improvements faster.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  

                    Renewable energy brings national global security.     

                    by Calamity Jean on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:25:22 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  If we had feed-in tariffs... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...then enough rooftop solar would sprout that it would add up to utility scale.

        Like Germany has.

        “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

        by SolarMom on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:13:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Please feel free to add me to the list. (0+ / 0-)

    I've likewise been free to take a contempt bath because of my unpleasant habit of telling the truth, here and elsewhere.

    The toxic solar scam has sucked hundreds of billions of dollars (in various currencies around the world) and has become effectively a religious talisman for people who hear only what they want to hear and think only what they want to think.

    It's a tremendously expensive failure on this planet, sucking money that could have been used in billions of more useful ways to satisfy an unthinking myth held by an unthinking public.

    It's now 2012, nearing the end, in what will prove to be one of the 10 worst years for climate change gas increases in history.     It is almost 60 years since the mindless cheering for solar energy began.

    How come the endless cheering for solar has no signature in the atmosphere?

    How much energy does the solar industry produce, for all of it's waste - including the hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide dumped so people can tell us how wonderful solar energy is?

    The EIA offers figures up to 2010 - 56 years after the invention of the PV cell:   It's 31.22 billion kwh hours.

    Sound like a lot of energy?   Not really, if you understand energy on scale, which zero solar advocates do as they ask us to indulge their wasteful wishful thinking strategy.   31.22 billion kwh amounts to 0.12 exajoules on a planet that uses 520 exajoules, despite the fact that 2 billion people have no access to toilets or even primitive sanitary conditions.    In average continuous power the power output is 3,560 MW, the output of 3 or 4 conventional power plants, for the entire planet.

    What the solar industry is, similar to the wind industry, is nothing more than a fig leaf for the gas/coal/oil industries, which have managed to have themselves advertised - in a total denial of reality - as "transitional."

    Mostly journalists are as scientifically illiterate as the membership of say, Greenpeace, but I would be the last one to criticize a journalist for an unexpected outbreak of rationality in criticizing the solar scam.

    The fact is, that the "solar will save us" myth is as pernicious as the work of other denialists, say for instance, James Inhofe.

    The reason that climate change is now irreversible, and will now inevitably make tragedies like the one I just lived through, Hurricane Sandy, look like a walk in the park, is just as much attached to the irrational belief that "solar will save us" - as is clearly incapable of doing in spite of decades of cheering - as it is to the crap put out by other dogmatists, like, again, Inhofe.

    Have a nice day.

    •  If you view climate change as irreversable (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, Calamity Jean, SolarGuy

      why do you spend so much time advocating for nuclear power? Why not just advocate for fossil fuels and spare the middle-man of your normal argument?

      Interesting comment. Really. Comparing the pro-solar posters on the Daily Kos to Inhofe. Well, at least this is one of the nicer comments that I've seen from you.

    •  I can't figure out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive

      what list you want to be added to.

      Green is good:

      by bogmanoc on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 12:49:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  what you perceive as a failure (6+ / 0-)

      is perceived by most of us as a start.

      Texas got 26% of its electricity from wind the other day.

      Denmark is getting 50 to 80% of its electricity from wind at any given moment - realtime map here.

      I'm choosing not to respond to the more incendiary claims re solar/wind being a figleaf, etc.

      Congress can't redo the laws of physics. Do the math. @RL_Miller

      by RLMiller on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 01:00:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (0+ / 0-)
        Denmark is getting 50 to 80% of its electricity from wind at any given moment - realtime map here.
        Got any evidence for "50 to 80% at any given moment"? When I checked your link (14:00 CET 25.11.) wind was less than 10% of consumption. The latest IEA data show wind at 18,5% in 2009, and that relatively high wind fraction is largely being achieved by being able to use Norwegian and Swedish hydro as virtual storage. It's possible that 80% wind has been reached instantaneously, but "50 to 80% at any given moment" is a flat out lie.
        •  Date should be 26.11. (n/t) (0+ / 0-)
        •  um (0+ / 0-)
          It's possible that 80% wind has been reached instantaneously, but "50 to 80% at any given moment" is a flat out lie.
          WTF is the difference between instantaneously and at any given moment?

          Javelin, Jockey details, all posts, discontinue

          by jam on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:16:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not a native english speaker (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

   some nuances may be lost.
            I understood "at any given moment" to mean always, i.e. pick any random moment and wind will be between 50 and 80%, which is clearly not the case. It occasionally may be between 50 and 80% however.

            A quick search on the definition of "any given moment" seem to support my interpretation.

            •  I am a native English speaker (0+ / 0-)

              and now that I think about it, I'm not exactly sure what it means. I do believe that I understand the commenter's intent and it was not what you perceived.

              In any event, it is possible to produce between 50% and 80% at some arbitrary instantaneous moment. It does not always produce 50%-80%. Since I have read a lot of the commenter's writings, I know that RL Miller knows this.

              Javelin, Jockey details, all posts, discontinue

              by jam on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:48:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  If I understand you correctly (3+ / 0-)

      You are complaining not much solar energy output is a failure on the part of solar advocates.  The interference of Big Oil and Gas, with their billions in subsidies plus an entire military structure to enforce its commercial operations simply doesn't exist.  In fact, you believe all solar and wind energy is a diversion by oil companies rather than a threat to their obscenely high profits. And that's why they spend so much money and effort hiring people to trash it. Gotcha.

      In the meantime, I'll continue advocating for solar energy despite your having a sad over it.

    •  At least (0+ / 0-)

      you could thank Obama for approving a couple of new nukes, after 30 years without getting one built in the US. That's the all of the above energy policy; Solar plus nukes plus everything else.

    •  couple of things (0+ / 0-)

      first, you didn't use the "fossil fuel heat rate" for converting kWh to BTUs, as per EIA standard policy, so it should be about 0.32 exajoules, not 0.12. If you change the units to quads on the page you link to, it will show 0.305 quads total.

      Second, you used 2010 numbers which makes sense since they are already totaled for you. However, if you use the 2011 numbers - even as they are without all countries reporting, you can see that there is 58.476 billion kWh, which amounts to 0.60 exajoules. Given the on-going growth of solar, I imagine that it will pass that magical 1 exajoule mark you've been carping about sometime in 2013. Won't that be fun?

      If you do the same for wind, you get 3.3 quads for 2010 and 4.3 quads for 2011. Looks like wind will probably hit 5 quads for 2012.

      Doesn't sound like much in a world that uses 520 exajoules, does it? Does it sound like more if you say 6/26=23% or wind+solar produces 23% of the amount of energy as nuclear? That's right, folks. In a world that uses 520 exajoules of energy, nuclear produces a paltry 5% of that total, or 26 EJ. After 50 years of mindless cheering, billions upon billions of subsidies, the nuclear industry produces only 5% of the world's energy.

      Javelin, Jockey details, all posts, discontinue

      by jam on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 02:10:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There should be property taxes on solar equip (0+ / 0-)

    Property taxes apply to equipment that treats cancer patients, pharma manufacturing, etc..  Just because profit making property is associated with a positive public purpose does not mean it should not be subject to property tax.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 01:25:26 PM PST

    •  Are there property taxes on power plants? (0+ / 0-)

      We'll wait while you research this.

      I wonder if my property taxes are going up because I put PVs on my roof.  It does make my house worth more.

      •  There are property taxes on power plants (0+ / 0-)

        however there are cases where these are waived or reduced.  There is no national policy on this, as this is a state and local issue.  There should be no special exemption for profit making entities.  

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 01:40:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Utilities are a special case (0+ / 0-)

          They are highly regulated in exchange for shooting for a profit level.  That is probably why their property taxes have their own set of credits and the like, as they do offer a vital service.

      •  The referenced article (0+ / 0-)

        said that the solar plants receive a huge renewable energy tax credit that apparently negates almost all of their property tax.

        •  How could that be? (0+ / 0-)

          Property taxes are administered by the county. Energy credits are usually Federal.  The company budgeting for taxes might net to zero, but the taxing agencies aren't the same entities.

          I own a share of a company that put solar panels up.  I got a substantial energy credit on my federal taxes that year, but not my California state taxes.

          •  From the first referenced article (0+ / 0-)

            BrightSource Energy, developer of the proposed $2.7-billion Hidden Hills solar power plant 230 miles northeast of Los Angeles, promised a bounty of jobs and a windfall in tax receipts. In a county that issued just six building permits in 2011, Inyo officials first estimated that property taxes from the facility would boost the general fund 17%.

            But upon closer inspection, the picture didn't seem so rosy.

            An economic consultant hired by the county found that property tax revenue would be a fraction of the customary amount because portions of the plant qualifiy for a solar tax exclusion.

  •  The reason these big solar projects (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaggies2009, Dirtandiron, RLMiller

    are "necessary" at all is because the utility companies refuse to allow feed in tariff programs; they need to own the power they generate.

    There are tens of thousands of available acres for solar on rooftops.  Now.  Today.  While net metering programs are really great, they disincentivize the customer from installing larger arrays that generate surplus power because the customer isn't credited for power that they don't use.

    I've always contended that the biggest reason why the energy industry hates solar and wind so much is because they can't own the commodity, the fuel.  Solar and wind present enormously less opportunity for profit because it is not a consumable.  Therefore it is much more profitable for energy companies to control huge generation centers where they can at least treat the power generated as a commodity.

    Feed-in tariffs destroy this opportunity and relegate the utility to a mere transporter of the commodity instead of the owner of the commodity. Once again the environment suffers because of the greed of the energy industry.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 02:13:22 PM PST

    •  The energy generators (0+ / 0-)

      namely the utilities and the merchant power companies generally do not own the fuel.  Most utilities have contracts with mining and natural gas companies to supply coal and gas, (or uranium) and do not own the fuel outright, themselves.

      •  But they do control (0+ / 0-)

        the generation, maintaining it's status as a commodity.

        The energy industry as a whole requires control of consumable commodities to reap the exorbitant profits that they do.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:17:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  La Gitane - I am a huge solar advocate (0+ / 0-)

      but the reason that the utilities don't like wind and solar is not because they don't control the fuel. Fuel is a major cost for utilities so they would love to lower that cost. The reason is that alternative energy isn't predictable. The major challenge of wind and solar is that it is difficult to determine exactly how much power they will be generating at any point in time. Managing energy is significantly more complex when you have big peaks and valleys from alternative sources. The utility has to meet the customer demand at the moment so load balancing is very difficult when power is generated in peaks and valleys.  

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 09:11:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That problem is solved (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        By using the grid as storage, and supplemented by traditional generation; net metering already does this.

        It is not a huge jump to go from net metering to feed-in tariffs.  Germany has been incredibly successful with this.

        The only reason we don't do it here is because the utility companies do not want to relinquish control of the generation. You kind of missed my point - feed in tariffs would eliminate the need for giant generation facilities like arrays in the desert because you would have hundreds of thousands of localized individual generators. This is also more efficient from the standpoint of distribution as well.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 10:42:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nuclear Power Plants pay ZERO for insurance, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, Calamity Jean

    because the cost of insurance for a Nuclear Power Plant would be astronomical, so it is covered by the US Government, otherwise the price for electricity would be astronomically high.... so this means that the Nuclear Industry effectively gets a subsidy from the US Government, and a massively high subsidy at that.

  •  LA Times still owned by Tribune Co (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster

    And as such may have taken on the ultra conservative view points and tactics of it's overlord.

    --United Citizens defeated Citizens United...This time. --

    by chipoliwog on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:42:27 PM PST

  •  The most anti-solar reporter in the mainstream med (0+ / 0-)

    Question:  How many tons of carbon per acre do calcified desert soils sequester?  
    Answer: We don't know but it's likely a hell of a lot.  

    This is just one of many reasons we need to protect intact desert ecosystems.  Like it or not, LAT's Julie Cart gets it right in reporting on some of the emerging problems with industrial solar development (ISD).  Southern California is ground zero in the nation for big solar and they've been grappling with it for half a decade. LAT should be commended for being the first to go against the political grain and report honestly on the issues.

    ISD requires some background to understand and it's embarrassingly clear that RLMiller knows little of what he raves about.  

    It's not enough to declare oneself a "climate hawk" and blindly promote any and every "renewable" energy project that claims to reduce an ounce of carbon.  We can and must do renewable energy right this time. That means NOT destroying the environment and every living thing that stands in the way of ever more big energy production. We have to rapidly assess and change course when needed.  In other words, we don't have time to f*k around and repeat the same stupid old energy mistakes.

    First of all, allowing the same industry players who got us into this mess to destroy VAST swaths (20 million acres and counting) of undisturbed desert wildlands for ISD is not going to save our climate.  * Check it out yourself and see that PB, Chevron, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, are primary investors in ISD.

    Real change will only happen when we wrestle energy production and distribution out of the hands of Wall Street and utility monopolies.   The real fight should be FOR massive efficiency programs and blasting open renewable energy markets to ALL interested investors (A national Feed-in tariff/FiT is a good place to start).  Real progress will only happen when We The People, communities, municipalities, independent energy cooperatives and businesses begin to OWN the means of energy generation on the millions of acres of "solestate" in the VAST urban environment already devoted to meeting human needs.  

    Germany and much of Europe are PROVING the path.  Instead of attacking LAT for shining daylight on the hard truth, lets admit our mistakes and get to work!

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